Industrial Design Student Sweeps IHA Design Contest

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Industrial Design Student Sweeps IHA Design Contest


For the first time in the 24-year history of the International Housewares Association's (IHA)  Student Design Competition, an industrial designer has won first, second and third place, prompting the creation of a new Outstanding Achievement Award for the winner, Dominic Montante, a senior at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) from Rochester, N.Y.

The Student Design Competition’s annual challenge to students is to redesign a current housewares product to meet the needs of the future, or to create a concept for a new product. Winning projects are selected for their innovation, understanding of production and marketing principles, and quality of entry materials.

In recognition of his exceptional feat, Montante will receive a $5,000 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show, March 18-21. His winning product concepts may be seen by about 62,000 attendees and more than 2,200 exhibiting companies from more than 100 countries. Joining Montante at the show will be one first-, one second- and two third-place winners who will share $6,500 in prize money. Their four schools will receive grants to total $2,500.

Montante won first place for his concept, the Klima Indoor Climate System. A window-type air conditioner, the Klima hangs over, not in, a window frame, providing the user with a clear view through the window and the ability to open it. 

As the child of Italian and Laotian immigrants, and in the tradition of his craftsman grandfather, he began drawing from the time he could hold a pen. However, “unlike other kids who drew their families or pets, I've always drawn consumer products like vacuums and cars,” he said. “When I was determining a career path, industrial design seemed like a natural extension of what I'd been doing my whole life.” His three winning projects were assigned as part of the CIA curriculum, and he chose to improve on the design of objects “which have inconvenienced me personally in my day-to-day life,” he added.

Montante’s second place design is the Kipp Sofa/Table, a space-efficient furniture system featuring three upholstered chairs and a table that combine into a sofa. Targeted toward young people who move often, the lightweight and convenient set quickly disassembles into four pieces that are easy to carry by one person. Designed for small apartments, Kipp fits through narrow doors, stairways and small elevators. Constructed of sustainable materials, its minimalist styling enhances modern interiors.

Montante’s third place entry, Scelto One Coffeemaker, brings the quality materials and craftsmanship of conventional stovetop espresso brewers to a single-serve electric coffee maker. Designed to reduce waste, its simple construction reduces parts and production costs, reduces operational failures and its components are recyclable. Users can measure their favorite grounds into the stainless steel reusable filter and brew coffee into their own mug. Scelto’s slim form frees space and adds personality to the countertop.

First place and $2,500 was awarded to Michael Laudi, a senior at the Cleveland Institute of Art, for Rose Plate, a plate that assists people with only one available hand to cut food, promoting their independence and enhancing
quality of life. (Pictured.) The surface of the plate features textured rubber thorns that hold food in place and create cutting channels for a knife. The plate’s form provides an ergonomic grip for easy one-handed carrying and a basin for food to collect near the side wall for easier scooping.

Altogether, there were 297 entries from 28 schools—including universities in Israel, India, Portugal and Denmark.

Vicki Matranga, who heads IHA’s design programs and services and manages the Student Design Competition, said, “IHA’s program has become known as the gold standard for college-level competitions. Many U.S. professors assign the program annually to industrial design students because it is a real-world exercise and every entry receives feedback from two industry professionals. Students must identify user needs and opportunity spaces in the marketplace, research competitive available products, test models with users and consider production issues.”

This year’s winners were chosen by a respected jury, including the founders of two design-driven IHA member companies, design managers at consumer products companies, a major retailer, design consultants and two educators. Altogether, judges spend hundreds of volunteer hours in reviewing the submissions, which consist of written materials, sketches, engineering drawings and photos.

“Dominic’s remarkable triple win resulted not only because of his hard work, but due to the anonymous judging process,” Matranga said. “The entries, known only by number, were assigned randomly to the 14 judges. His projects rose to the top in the group of best concepts chosen by the judges to be reviewed in the final round.” 

24 Years of Exceptional Student Design
This is the 24th year that winning design students have been honored at the International Home + Housewares Show, expanding awareness of careers in industrial design among students and highlighting the impact of design on the $314.3 billion global housewares industry. Since the competition began in 1993, more than 5,000 college students have entered, and each has come away with an educational experience that the design profession recognizes as unique.

“I wish I had known about this competition when I was a student,” Grisdale said, “It’s great for not only the winners, but all the entrants because they get personalized feedback on their designs. As a judge, I am thankful to the IHA for allowing me to experience the energy and passion these winners bring to their projects.”