International Home + Housewares Show 2012 Preview: Student Design Competition Winners

In its 19th year, the Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Home and Housewares Show announced this year’s winning product designs from students representing institutions from around the country. 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.

Winning first place in this year’s competition is Samuel Chen (Junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) for his “Cyclone” kitchen fire extinguisher and Mariel Piña (Senior at the University of Houston) for her “Ambos” grater/colander.


Chen’s “Cyclone” is a first response product that helps put out kitchen fires utilizing a homemade solution of vinegar and baking soda. The design is stainless steel—elegant enough to sit in a tool tub on the kitchen counter or hang from a hook. Twisting the utensil’s valve mixes the solution to spray a carbon dioxide foam. Because common kitchen ingredients are used, the tool can be used repeatedly unlike typical single-use products filled with hazardous propellants. “My product was sparked from the personal experience of a fire in my kitchen,” Chen said. “Recognizing the panic and stress involved, I researched fires and designed an extinguisher to eliminate them in the most time and cost efficient way, keeping in mind an aesthetic and pragmatic design.”


Piñna’s “Ambos” merges the function of a cheese/food grater and a colander into one product. Safe and ergonomic, her design is convenient for storage and reduces kitchen clutter. The lower center of gravity for the grater makes the “Ambos” more comfortable and stable. “My goal is to reconnect the user with the pleasures of simple living,” Piña said. “Making an experience like grating cheese easy and enjoyable brings us back to basics. I also want to reduce the clutter in the home that prevents us from encountering life fully and wholeheartedly, so we can focus on simple tasks like cooking our own food.”