Receiving recognition from industry for a student project is a lofty, but not unreasonable, goal for an ArtCenter student. It is also not unusual for an award-winning project to be recognized by multiple organizations. Having that project attract the attention of the national media happens with less frequency—and it would have been hard to predict that the most recent student project to attract this level of attention was a portable toilet design.
For Product Design student Anna Meddaugh, however, who came to ArtCenter to pursue social impact design after a career in public health, her Night Loo project, that has the potential to save refugee women and girls from the threat of sexual violence, is a natural blending of her background and interests.
In addition to a BS in Product Design and a minor in Social Innovation offered by the Designmatters department, Anna is graduating with distinction and was a nominee for the Student Leadership Award.
Driven by “a desire to be a force for good in the world,” she served as a mentor to her peers at the same time as helping communities, both local and international, through Designmatters. We caught up with the high-achiever shortly before graduation to check in on the status of the Night Loo and her plans for the future.
Campus News: What drew you to ArtCenter?
Anna Meddaugh: I chose ArtCenter for the Designmatters program, following my passion for social design.
CN: As a second-career student, how has your past experience informed your approach as a student and as a designer?
AM: My previous career in public health (and previous degree in sociology) definitely informs my perspective throughout the design process—particularly when considering what motivates users, or the broader impacts of a design solution. I tend to gravitate toward projects that have a social impact or public health element to them— the types of problems I’m most interested in solving.
CN: One of your projects, the Night Loo, gained tremendous attention, receiving recognition from the Core77 Design Awards (Student Notable), the James Dyson Award (National Finalist), the Denhart Sustainability Award (Special Recognition) and the Global Grad Show in Dubai. Additionally, Fast Company, Dezeen and Azure all wrote stories about the project.
Was the attention welcome or a distraction? What was the most surprising or rewarding aspect of receiving recognition for this project?
AM: The recognition has been a strong motivator for continuing to develop the Night Loo and working to bring it into production; until I bring a solution to those who need it, the awards feel premature.
The most rewarding aspect has been discovering that other people agree that the safety and dignity of refugee women and girls matters. This gives me hope for humanity.
CN: Where is the Night Loo now—is there thought to developing it into a product?
AM: I redesigned the Night Loo as my capstone project, and my next steps are establishing partnerships, pursuing funding and user testing in refugee camps.
CN: What part of being a student at ArtCenter have you enjoyed the most?
AM: Connecting with amazing people—fellow students, faculty and staff, alike.
CN: What is your favorite place on campus?
AM: Wherever the deer are!
CN: What are you looking forward to doing once you are no longer an ArtCenter student?
AM: I’m looking forward to establishing a healthier balance of work and leisure time—especially relaxing with friends.