Design senior Sarah O'Brien's "Elizabowl" chosen from over 200 entries in the 15th annual Student Design Competition, sponsored by the International Housewares Association.

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ROSEMONT, IL— Innovative products that serve multiple functions and provide storage solutions are among the top winners in the 15th annual Student Design Competition, sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA).

A jury of designers in the blind judging contest recognized great concepts, backed up with research, development and creative design, to award a total of 19 prizes to students in 11 design schools from coast to coast. Sarah O’Brien, a senior at The University of Louisiana, earned first place and $2,400 for her design of Elizabowl, a flexible fruit bowl that expands and contracts to store and display various types and sizes of fruit. Separate compartments for each piece of fruit help minimize bruising and significantly reduce the transfer of ethylene gas that causes over-ripening. This was O’Brien’s second entry in the IHA competition; she received an honorable mention in 2006. O'Brien returned to school after serving as Director of Research at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

The product prototypes and their creators will take center stage at the Housewares Design Center at the 2008 International Home + Housewares Show, March 16-18, at Chicago's McCormick Place. The Show is expected to attract 60,000 visitors from more than 100 countries all focused on buying and selling the latest products at the world’s largest homegoods marketplace.

This is the 15th year that winning design students have been honored at the Show, expanding awareness of careers in industrial design among students and highlighting the impact of design on the $73 billion U.S. housewares industry. The competition is endorsed by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

This year, 215 project entries were submitted from 27 IDSA-affiliated design schools in North America. San Jose State University captured two of the five top prizes, plus an honorable mention. Other winning schools included The University of Louisiana, California College of the Arts and Columbus College of Art & Design. IHA granted the four schools a total of $2,500 to support their design programs. First, second and third place student winners divide $8,400 in prize money and receive an all-expense paid trip to the Show to display their designs. In addition, an honorable mention and $250 cash award goes to 14 students.

The 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. All winners will be recommended as candidates for design internship positions for IHA member companies, a value-added benefit.

Second place and $1,800 each were awarded to Noah Balmer, a senior at the California College of the Arts, for KitchenSync, and to Richard Hagee, a senior at the Columbus College of Art & Design, for Opus. The KitchenSync allows users an efficient way to view recipes they have stored on their home computer without printing them with water-soluble ink or bringing an expensive laptop into the kitchen. The stationary dock houses the main components, including the computer's motherboard, and is plugged into the wall. The book component connects magnetically to the dock and is charged through induction. The book slides off the dock and can be held in the hand or placed on a countertop for optimal viewing.

The Opus laundry hammock aids in the collection, transportation and handling of at least 1.5 bushels of laundry. Opus hangs from clothes racks or in closets and allows a user to gather and sort laundry easily without bending over. The frame, which is fitted with a nylon mesh bag, folds up for safe and easy one-hand carrying. The bag can be tossed into the washer with the clothing.

Two third-place awards for $1,200 each went to Faris Elmasu and Alexander Brown, sophomores at San Jose State University. Elmasu's BIN incorporates two commonly used products — a trash bin and a light vacuum. The trash bin holds garbage, but also stores, cleans and charges the vacuum. It also provides easy access for cleaning a hard floor surface. Brown designed Della, a floor lamp/lantern/flashlight that provides ambient room and mood lighting and an emergency light. Rotating and translating arms have a lamp attached or serve as a base for a rechargeable, portable lamp that has an LED array on one end and a flashlight on the other.