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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The International Home and Housewares Show wraps up in Chicago today. More than 60,000 buyers and sellers of household gadgets and appliances will get a chance to see what stores will have on their shelves in the next six months. The housewares industry is worth over $300 billion globally. The show awards design students who have the best ideas. Reporter Yolanda Perdomo has more.
YOLANDA PERDOMO: More than 200 industrial design students from around the U.S. and Canada submitted their prototypes to the International Housewares Association. Six winners were chosen.
Rob Swinton, a 23-year-old senior from the Cleveland Institute of Art, tied for first place with his reinvention of the spray paint can, where the paint comes in bags.
ROB SWINTON: It uses disposable plastic bags instead of disposing an entire steel can, you dispose of the plastic bags when they’re empty. And it uses CO2 which is refillable and it’s better to breathe in so you can use it inside your home with less hazard, with less ventilation than regular spray paint.
His twin brother Matt Swinton was the person Rob tied with. Each got a cash prize of $2,400.
Matt is reinventing the wheel — the garden hose wheel to be exact. His design makes the hose retractable and easy to use. He says designing items for everyday use may not seem glamorous, but it’s fascinating just the same.
MATT SWINTON: I’m a better thinker than I am a stylist. I think I spend a lot more time trying to figure out how to do things better, do things differently. And I think, for me, that’s what’s more interesting about design is how you change how people think. I like changing things up and making things work better.
Joey Nakayama is a senior industrial designer for Herbst Lazar Bell and a judge for the competition. He says redesigning ordinary items is about making people more comfortable with everything from a basket to a broom.
JOEY NAKAYAMA: For products that are very utilitarian, like most housewares products are, if you can just make something just a little bit easier, a little bit nicer for someone to use, just look a little bit better wherever it is, then that will have some sort of emotional resonance.
Even if the prototypes aren’t picked up by companies to be mass produced, the expo gets the students noticed by other designers and companies who’ll hire them for their innovative ideas.
In Chicago, I’m Yolanda Perdomo for Marketplace.
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