Doing well by doing good: ArtCenter students’ social impact innovations win big at 2015 IDEA awards

Though the hum of activity in the halls and classrooms of Hillside and South campuses has temporarily lulled as we await the start of the Fall term, Summer 2015 has ended on a high note with this week’s news that ArtCenter students’ innovative prototypes and projects were honored by the prestigious Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) at the organization’s International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in Seattle on August 22.

Shirley Rodriguez’ “Monstas” took home a gold IDEA award.

The ArtCenter student team that designed Flo received a Gold Award and the distinguished Design for Equality Award (an industrywide honor) in recognition of products that give access to great design concepts to underserved communities. Lead student designer Mariko Higaki Iwai accepted the honors for Flo, developed for young girls in third world countries dealing with the challenges of menstruation without proper sanitary products.

Overall, ArtCenter student designs garnered two Gold Awards and one Silver, continuing the College’s long-standing tradition of turning out students who create pioneering products. The jury selected only 28 Gold Award winners among more than 1,700 entries from around the world.

Flo is the result of a recent ArtCenter Designmatters’ Girl Effect studio, a transdiciplinary collaboration led by the Product Design Department with Yale School of Management based on field research from Fuseproject and Nike Foundation. The story about Flo has generated thousands of social media shares and impressive media coverage.

Flo is just one of the many examples of social innovation products created by students who participate in ArtCenter’s groundbreaking Designmatters program, which has established a 14-year history in the field of design for social impact.

“It is very rewarding to receive this high-profile recognition and validation for a social innovation that so beautifully illustrates how design and education converge to make reality-based solutions with potential to positively impact lives by making menstruation more manageable for women throughout the world,” said Mariana Amatullo, co-founder and vice president of Designmatters at ArtCenter. “The project is also a tribute to the exemplary talent and dedication of our Product Design faculty.”

Shirley Rodriguez walked away with a Gold Award for Monstas, interactive exercise toys for children with Juvenile Arthritis. ArtCenter alumnus Kenneth Tay, who is currently working at Artefact in Seattle, accepted a Silver Award for Synchrony. Designed while Tay was a student at ArtCenter, Synchrony is a music therapy platform to help parents and children with autism develop intimacy and promote understanding of each other through improvised music play. Both concepts were also recently honored by the Core77 design award competition.

Iway, Rodriguez and Tay have emerged from ArtCenter’s Product Design Department, emphasizing consumer product designs that improve lives through a blend of functionality, relevance and sensory appeal. Please join us in celebrating their globally impactful accomplishments.

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One thought on “Doing well by doing good: ArtCenter students’ social impact innovations win big at 2015 IDEA awards

  1. Ciranoush

    Congratulations on creating some wonderful products!
    I would like to know how I can get in contact with someone regarding Flo and the distribution to women in Nepal. I am the Programme Development Manager for a not-for-profit organization in Australia and Flo interests me greatly.
    Again, well done all!

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