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Online Entry Deadline: December 18, 2017

Winning Launches Careers!

  • Cash Awards
  • Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago
  • Meet industry leaders and learn about this exciting global market

Industrial design students submit projects that demonstrate user and market research, design thinking, engineering drawings and tested prototypes. Entries are reviewed by professors, consultant designers, retailers and new product development managers at IHA-member companies. The rigorous program's requirements and judging process reflect real-world employer expectations. Top winners come to Chicago to exhibit their product concepts at the International Home + Housewares Show. Winners meet industry leaders and media and get unique exposure the business of new product introduction.

Learn about the housewares industry >

Meet the Winners of IHA’s 24th Annual Student Design Competition!

Get Inspired by Young Talent!

Five talented product design students will display their winning concepts in the student competition display in the Lakeside Center Hall of Global Innovation. For the first time in the 24-year history of IHA’s competition, one student won first, second and third place. Four students share first, second and third place awards. The display also features the work of 10 students whose projects earned Honorable Mentions.

The 2017 Competition Winners

Dominic Montante

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place - $5,000

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Michael Laudi

1st Place - $2,500

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Nicole Norris

2nd Place - $2,000

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Reed Fansler

3rd Place - $1,000

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Daniel Lopes

3rd Place - $1,000

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2017 Winning Entries Booklet (PDF) >

The 2017 Honorable Mentions

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2017 Participating Schools

Appalachian State University
Arizona State University
Auburn University
Avni Institute of Art and Design - Tel Aviv
Cleveland Institute of Art
College for Creative Studies
Columbus College of Art and Design
Georgia Institute of Technology
Kean University
MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences - Bangalore, India
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
North Carolina State University
Northern Michigan University
Purdue University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Technical University of Denmark
The Ohio State University
Universidade Lusíada do Norte - Portugal
University of Houston
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
University of Notre Dame
University of Oregon
University of Wisconsin - Stout
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Intellectual Property Protection for Students

Intellectual property (“IP”) is an area of law dealing with legal issues relating to the products of human ingenuity and creativity. This memorandum is intended to provide a general overview of three areas of IP law that commonly arise in the industrial design process: patent law, copyright law, and trademark law. A complete treatment of any one of these areas is beyond the scope of this document.

Download the Intellectual Property Protection PDF >

2017 Student Competition Judges

Kaitlyn Benoit
Senior Industrial Designer
Smart Design
New York, NY

Drew Carlson
Senior Industrial Designer
Hamilton Beach Brands
Glen Allen, VA

Gil Cavada
Design Director
Product Development Technologies
Lake Zurich, IL

Daniel Blake
Global Designer, Team Sports
Wilson Sporting Goods
Chicago, IL

Joe Fiore III
Senior QA, Technical Designer
Product Integrity-Quality
J.C. Penney
Plano, TX

Marianne Grisdale
Vice President / Creative Director
TEAMS Design
Chicago, IL

Bruce Kaminstein
Executive Chairman
Casabella Holdings LLC
Congers, NY

Audra Norvilas
Design Director
Chicago, IL

Sarah O’Brien
Design Consultant
Sheboygan, WI

Lauren McDermott
Associate Professor of Industrial Design
Interim Director, The Design School
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

TJ O’Keefe
Clinical Assistant Professor of Industrial Design
School of Design
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, IL

Paul Rowan
Toronto, ON

Christopher C. White
Senior Brand Consultant
Dallas TX

Christina Whitehouse
Whitehouse Uprising
Chicago, IL

2017 Judges Testimonials

Being a judge was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot from the students and from the other judges.
It was exciting to see so much young talent from many schools and I was inspired by the innovative product ideas we reviewed.
Casabella has hired past winners, so we know how our industry benefits from this competition, which encourages young designers to seek careers in housewares.

Bruce Kaminstein
Founder and Executive Chairman
Casabella Holdings LLC

Coming from a group of brands that compete in numerous housewares categories, judging was a rare opportunity to review and respond to this breath of industry-specific student work.
Being a judge gave me a glimpse into the future of housewares design and, at the same time, gave me the chance to participate in its creation—it felt like a true collaboration with students.

Drew Carlson
Senior industrial designer
Hamilton Beach Brands

I wish I had known about this competition when I was a student! This competition is great for not only the finalists and winners but also for all entrants because each entry gets personalized feedback. As a judge, I am thankful to the IHA for allowing me to be part of the energy and passion that the winners have brought to their projects.

Marianne Grisdale
Vice president/Creative Director
TEAMS Design

It was a unique experience to judge the student design competition for the first time. Each juror brought an interesting perspective to the panel, and the students put so much effort and creativity into their entries.  

Lauren McDermott
Interim Director
Arizona State University
The Design School 

Past Winner Testimonials

The entire experience was exceptionally cool for a college student. It was a rare opportunity to meet with other design students from different schools to discuss design and share ideas. It was my first trip to a trade show, a world that I only had a vague idea about. It was eye-opening. The sheer size and scope was amazing. I loved the combination of architecture and marketing. It left a big impression, and sparked my interest in what would become my profession as an exhibit designer.

Christopher Schwab, 1994
Designer, Czarnowski, Austell, GA

During my junior year at Arizona State University, I was one of the lucky winners in the Housewares Student Design Competition. I still remember getting that call from Vicki, how awesome it felt and how excited I was to have my design shown at the Show! It was thanks to the Show that I got my foot in the door with the Chicago design community and launched my career doing exactly what I love to do. The Show puts young students in the limelight and presents the excitement that a career in design can bring.

Sona Patadia-Rao, 1999
Lunar, Chicago

Attending the Housewares Show in 2003 was not only exciting, but also gave me a special glimpse into a profession and an industry. As a student designer, it was so encouraging to be recognized for a product concept that addressed accessibility issues for wheelchair users and so inspiring to meet professionals who valued universal design. The IHA endorsement of my project helped my portfolio stand out during the interview process and directly led to my first position as a full-time industrial designer.

Joni Saylor, 2003
Industrial Designer
IBM Hardware Experience Design

As a senior in design school, the project was invaluable for making sure that I was addressing research, problem solving, branding and design refinement at all levels of the process in order to be successful in the competition. The validation and encouragement of winning helped me land my first professional design job at Lunar Design in San Francisco, which has served as a foundation for me as a problem solver, design instructor, industrial designer and visual thinker.

Rob Swinton, 2007
Lead Industrial Designer
HUGE DESIGN, San Francisco

Success in the IHA Student Design Competition did everything from leading me to my first internship, to teaching me I didn’t have the right professional attire, to giving me confidence and resolve to keep working my tail off in industrial design. The time at the Show also gave me the opportunity to learn so much about my project through candid feedback from a range of people a design researcher could only dream about.

Nora Flood, 2009
Structural Packaging Designer
Studio One Eleven, Chicago

Participating in the IHA competition as a student and then a few years later as a judge cemented for me that this is a fantastic competition for students to enter. Winners present their work at one of the nation's largest trade shows to thousands of people who want to see their designs—I know firsthand that this can jump-start a career. What students do not see are the judges sitting at a table presenting and debating entry booklets as if they were their own projects. Every booklet is reviewed by the jury and critiqued so that each entrant gets valuable feedback, regardless of their placement in the competition. The strong organization behind the IHA competition focuses on truly benefiting the students who enter. The IHA competition was a milestone in my college career and I could not recommend it more.

Trevis Kurz, 2010
Beyond Design, Chicago

The IHA win helped me hone my ability to give a great "elevator pitch", a valuable life skill that's still paying off. Before the Show, I was pretty anxious about the whole event--but it was such a wonderful feeling when that fear started being replaced by confidence in my words and project.

Alex Broerman, 2012
Designer, Continuum, Boston

"I was honored to be selected for the 18th IHA student design award. Being a recipient of the award was an unparalleled experience for me. I had a great opportunity to present my work in front of thousands of audiences. I got my first design internship by making connections with design professionals during the show. My winning project was also recognized by Core 77 and CBS news. It really opened the door to the design professional world. I highly recommend students to take part, not only for their self-esteem but for the opportunities it offers."

Kevin Wu
2011 Third Place
University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign

"Winning the IHA Design Competition gave me a huge boost not only in self-confidence but it helped open up the doors to a design internship that eventually lead to a permanent design position at GK Design International. GKDI is the design house for Yamaha Motor Corporation. I eventually lead a team in their Snow mobile and Motorcycle division. Currently I manage a design staff of over 30 in one of the largest privately owned Home Décor manufacturers in Los Angeles.

IHA was instrumental in learning the patent process and allowed me to license my IHA winning design a couple years after the show. Unfortunately it never made it to market, but advance royalties decreased the disappointment of never hitting the shelves. I have since used these skills in patenting other products during my career.

IHA was such a great and fun experience. It was my first time to Chicago and I have been back several times, both for work and personal events."

Christopher Kimbro
2001 First Place
California State University—Northridge

"Seeing the Housewares Show for the first time was overwhelming! This Show is expansive and brings in companies from all over the world. It was a great experience, talking to many people from different markets and trades. Discussing my project from different angles gave me a lot of confidence and exposure. After graduating from Cleveland Institute of Art, for the past 6 years, I’ve been working on major innovation programs at Nottingham Spirk, including Fortune 500 companies, in markets such as beauty care, baby care, food and beverage packaging, to name a few. My experiences at this Show contributed to my abilities when presenting to clients, expressing my ideas when working with a team, and working effectively with suppliers."

Rachel Nottingham Colosimo
2006 Third Place
Cleveland Institute of Art

"Winning the IHA award helped open doors indirectly. At the end of it, I knew I had experience most other students did not have. I had a glimpse of the real design world. The experience solidified my choice to be a designer."

Michelle Cheung,
2006 Third Place
San Jose State University
Now a designer at Mercedes-Benz Research and Development

"Attending the Housewares Show in 2003 gave me real insight into professional industry. As a student designer, it was so encouraging to be recognized for a product concept that addressed accessibility issues for wheelchair users. While still in school, I applied for my first and only ID position with nothing but my housewares design project--it worked, I'm still here! "

Joni Saylor
2003 Second Place
IBM Industrial Design
Arizona State University

"The Housewares Show was the icing on the cake, regarding my college career. It gave me the opportunity to display the talents and perspectives I'd gained over 5 years of class work and internships to perspective employers, clients and peers. Ultimately, my participation at IHA directly led to my first full-time position at one of the world's top design firms (IDEO). The Show is a great barometer for young design talent. I would encourage any student looking for exposure and experience to enter a concept and visit the Show."

Geoffrey Baldwin
2006 Second Place
University of Cincinnati

"Congratulations on 18 years and going strong!  I have to say that in many ways winning the first prize at the NHMA Student design competition was a great start in my career.  At the moment the newness and excitement of being at the Show was a great reward for the effort I put into this competition but what I did not know then was the long term impact on my career. I met people whom I am still friends with and have cultivated relationships with people that today are clients.  In many ways Ii opened doors to an exciting future doing what I love:  design."

Manuel Saez
2000 First Place
Manuel Saez, Ltd.
University of Bridgeport

"As a student, winning the competition was so important because it gave me exposure to thousands of industry professionals at the Housewares Show, and many more in the publications I was featured in.  I was able to get feedback on my design and some job and internship leads.  Many people were interested in manufacturing my product.

Now that my product has been commercialized, I am collecting royalty checks every quarter.  That extra income really helps now that I am in graduate school and on a fixed income.

It has all come full-circle, now that I instruct students and judge the competition.  I feel that I have a unique perspective on the entire process.  I believe that the key to winning is being able to prove that your concept is based on a real problem and that your solution is unique and well thought-out. 

The International Housewares Association Student Design Competition is the most important competition that students participate in during their undergraduate studies.  It can launch careers."

Michael Elwell
2005 Third Place winner
University of Notre Dame Instructor

"It was an honor and exciting to receive the award. To be honest I was not enthusiastic to work on a housewares project at the time (I had a bit of a cynical and idealistic streak for a while in college) but I did take the design task seriously. Winning the award changed my attitude. It was an honor to be recognized by my peers, industry professionals and the faculty at the college( I was invited to speak to foundation level design students about the ID program) I also grew into a bit of a leadership role as well. I organized a trip to a regional IDSA conference in Chicago as well as a gallery show at KU featuring work by the ID department. The award and my project, in large part enabled me to get hired by Ziba Design, one of the preeminent design firms on the west coast.  As an educator I continue to draw on that experience and exposure and encourage my students to pursue design competitions as a means of building a portfolio."

Patrick Myers
1997 First Place
Industrial Design Shop Supervisor Adjunct Faculty, The Art Institute of Portland
University of Kansas