March 22, 2022
CIA is the winningest school in the history of the International Housewares Association's student competition
By Michael C. Butz
Cleaning up after your pet can really stink. Cleveland Institute of Art Industrial Design senior Yuanqing Li, or Larris, sought to improve the experience for cat owners like herself. Turns out her innovative solution was pick of the litter.
Li’s Mosha Litter Box makes clean-up easier and more efficient while providing an option that’s more sustainable than alternatives on the market. What’s more is that her design earned her an honorable mention in the International Housewares Association’s 29th annual Student Design Competition.
CIA students aren’t strangers to IHA. Just last year, Mahlon Lowry ’21 earned an honorable mention for Ambia, a light-therapy system that helps ease Seasonal Affective Disorder. All told, CIA has earned 29 IHA awards over the years, says Dan Cuffaro, Anne Fluckey Lindseth Professor and chair of CIA's Industrial Design Department.
We caught up with Li, who grew up in Suzhou, China, to ask about her design and winning the award.
Congratulations on this award! How does it feel to have your work recognized?
I’m so excited to achieve this award, and it is a real boost to be able to see my hard work paying off. While doing this project, I had so many times of doubt about my ideas and struggled with how to make the experience better and unique. Fortunately I figured it out, and I landed a prize.
Will you describe your award-winning Mosha Litter Box? What were you thinking about during the design process?
Mosha, which is a litter box in the hexagon shape with a handle, allows the user to rotate it and clean the litter box easily. Mosha separates the clumps from the clean litter, sifting by the drawer with holes inside the box, so the user doesn’t need to scoop. It is simple for the user to remove the drawer to throw away the clumps.
Mosha is designed for people who are weighed down by the complexity and busyness of modern life and become less perceptive of their cats. Mosha provides a simple cleaning process without any electric solutions. Compared with the automatic litter box, Mosha reduces the manufacturing materials and the electronic components. This helps to reduce the cost and make the product sustainable. People can afford Mosha without any expensive paired consumables.
What inspired you to design the Mosha Litter Box?
I’m a cat lover, and I have a cat named Rico. During my daily life to take care of Rico, I found lots of opportunities to improve the cat products, especially the unpleasant process of cleaning the litter box. So I started my research and came up with this project.
As you designed it, what did you learn along the way? And in what ways did your CIA professors assist you?
To design pet products, it’s not only designing for pets, but also designing for their owners. So I need to consider both users. It’s challenging to design a totally new experience to clean the litter box easily. And the problem is that the current automatic litter box is too expensive for most users. My professor, Dan Cuffaro, inspired me to think about why the automatic litter box is so expensive, and how I can reduce the cost. So finally I came up with a simple solution without any electronics, in order to make it affordable and efficient.
What advice might you offer to other design students who are working on projects or who might want to enter something of theirs in a competition?
While doing a design project, it is important to understand the problem. Make sure you empathize with the user experience. Once you comprehend the problem, then it’s easy to see your solutions for it. For the competition, be passionate for your design. It can help you generate the enthusiasm needed to plow through the barriers and overcome the most intractable challenges.
What's next for the Mosha Litter Box? What are your plans after graduation?
I’m continuing to improve my Mosha Litter Box by testing with cats. Also, I’m designing the package for it, which can be reused as a scratcher toy. After graduation, I would like to work as an industrial designer, especially in the housewares field.
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