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3 industrial design students innovate household objects, win honorable mention

Kelly Roderick / Lantern photographer

A door knob, a step ladder and an extension cord. Three commonplace products matched with three Ohio State industrial design students who found award-winning design solutions to solve user problems that most people overlook.

Jenny Clark, Michael Maclean and Evan Trickey are planning to attend the 2012 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, Ill., March 10-13 to showcase their individual designs, which each won honorable mention and a $250 prize in the student competition.

The three winners devoted their Fall Quarter studio design class to their projects for the contest, which they submitted in December to compete against 211 other student applicants from 21 different design schools in the U.S

“The hardest part was developing a product from beginning to end,” said Trickey, a fifth-year. “Before we would focus on certain aspects of a product like ideation sketches or final sketches or the research process, but it’s never all put together in one project. So it was definitely a unique experience to start with no idea of what you’re going to have, then have a completed project at the end of it.”

Students drew a random user group out of a hat during associate industrial design professor Scott Shim’s studio design class Fall Quarter and set out on their own to research and observe daily life to identify a need.

“By entering, I hope they can expand their knowledge in problem definition,” Shim said. “So I make them go around and observe everyday life products that they deal with on a daily basis, and see if there are any problems they see or problems people tend to ignore, you know those neglected problems that people kind of live with.”

Clark developed a modifiable door knob lever for people with arthritis. Maclean developed a more ergonomic step ladder with modified hand rails for elderly around the house. Trickey developed an extension-cord spool that can be wound using the rotation of a power drill, something a “do-it-yourself individual” might already have on hand.

Clark and the other winners said there was a lot of going back to the drawing board throughout the quarter.

“Originally I had a completely different project,” said Clark, a fourth-year. “I decided after having interviewed that there was a huge problem in people opening doors with arthritis, so I decided that these people needed something that was cheap, looked good and incorporated design and their needs simultaneously.”

Maclean, a fourth-year, said he drew inspiration for his ladder design from the anecdotes of interviewees.

“One lady told me she won’t clean her ceiling fan because it’s in the middle of the room and she doesn’t like being away from the walls or something to hold onto,” he said.

The winners said they had never won anything like this before, and were surprised when they found out.

“I was really surprised,” Maclean said. “Professor Shim told us to expect an email or some kind of call in February, and it came way earlier. I almost ignored the email because the subject line said congratulations, so I had to read it a couple times before I realized I won Housewares.”

According to the International Housewares Association (IHA), OSU, ranked third in the nation for its industrial design program and is the only school this year to have three students win honorable mentions. There were eight honorable mention winners total and two first, second and third place winners. The first place winners were from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Houston.

“It’s a good way to incorporate students and to promote industrial design to the housewares industry,” Shim said.

The winners said The International Home + Housewares Show in March will be a huge opportunity for them to network with professionals from the manufacturing and design industry for possible internships and job opportunities.

“In a really holistic sense, it may sound cliché, but in everything I do, I have to change the way people use things,” Clark said. “That’s why I’m in industrial design. I’m not here to be lackadaisical about the world. I want to go into it with the idea that one day I’ll be able to change the way people view really simple things, like the way they open a door or how they walk down stairs, and if that means helping people that everyone has overlooked, then I’ll do that.”

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