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News . Feature Stories . Student Wins 3rd in IHA Design Competition

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March 07, 2013

Student Wins 3rd in IHA Design Competition

Life just got better for painters and DYIers with Cole Mishler's POR.

Student Wins 3rd in IHA Design Competition

CIA’s Cole Mishler, a senior majoring in Industrial Design, won third place and $1,000 in the 20th annual International Housewares Association’s Student Design Competition.

“I enjoy designing solutions that help people with real-life problems,” says Mishler, who conceived the idea to help painters and home remodelers work more efficiently and to prevent injuries.

Mishler considered 55 concepts before narrowing it down to the system’s five main products: a ladder with storage components, paint roller, easy-to-clean paintbrush, self-filling paint tray and trim-tape dispenser. The modular system, which gives every piece its place, addresses all phases of the work process: prep, painting, clean-up and storage. The ladder’s work surface organizes tools with intuitive visual cues, reducing mess and allowing the painter to safely maneuver while on the ladder. Its work deck adjusts to different heights for comfort; the ladder’s wider steps and wide feet assure stability and its wheels offer easier transport.

“The uniqueness of Cole’s solution is that it involves not just one product, but an entire line of products that create a cohesive modular system,” says Dennis Futo, Adjunct Professor in the Industrial Design Department and owner of Insight Design, LLC. “That’s a challenge when you’re addressing many different phases of the entire painting experience,” he added.

"Cole gets it. He understands the importance and value of thorough end user research to help guide his entire design process,” says Futo.

Before he began to develop the painting organization system for his senior thesis, Mishler did his homework. He researched how painters and remodelers work by observing, interviewing and surveying more than 30 professionals and do-it-yourselfers. He explored different approaches to the various tasks, such as taping and painting trim work.

Mishler says he hopes product manufacturers at the Home and Housewares Show will see the marketability of the POR. With graduation in May, he’s also looking forward to making connections with industrial designers and design firms from across the country attending the show, which attracts tens of thousands of people from more than 100 countries.

Vicki Matranga, IHA’s design programs coordinator, says, “The show experience and time in Chicago is worth far more than the prize money in the long run. Winners meet industry leaders from around the world and many of them get first or second jobs from contacts made at the show. And they get a real-world view of how business works.”

One of six winners in the student competition, Mishler’s design was selected among 256 entries submitted from 26 colleges in the United States, Germany and Uruguay. CIA students have historically performed exceptionally well in the competition, according to Matranga, noting that in 2007, four of the six winners were from CIA.

“It’s evident that students from CIA have excellent teachers who guide them in problem definition and solution techniques,” said Matranga, who founded the competition in 1993. “I’ve also noticed that past winners from CIA have done quite well in their careers. That’s proof of CIA’s quality instruction.”

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