Breanna Stachowski places third in international competition

Author: Mel Flanagan

Senior Breanna Stachowski placed third in an international competition for her design of an infant highchair. Stachowski utilized knowledge gained from her internship during summer 2012 at Fisher-Price to help her design her product.

The International Housewares Association Student Design Competition awarded Stachowski third place for her design of an infant highchair that incorporated the needs of mothers.

“I knew I wanted to design something for a child’s early eating experience,” Stachowski said. “After interviewing several moms, reading a ton of Amazon reviews and mom blogs and even doing some more observational research, I was able to pinpoint a specific design direction targeting the top themes I saw develop.”

Stachowski said she entered the design contest at the end of the fall semester as a requirement for one of her Industrial Design courses. She said she worked on the project during the second half of the semester.

“The research phase took the longest,” Stachowski said. “I had to spend a lot of time benchmarking and getting an idea of what parents were looking for when they were buying highchairs.”

Although the idea for the highchair came easily, Stachowski said she struggled the most when developing a form for the highchair.

She said her professor, Ann Marie Conrado, was instrumental in the process.

“I actually ended up staying the week after school ended to finish and change some aspects of the process book before I submitted mostly because I didn’t have time during the semester to put as much attention towards this being in 21 credit hours and working a freelance job,” she said.

Designing a product is an extremely lengthy project, Stachowski, said. The senior was in the same Industrial Design course during the last academic year, and said she nearly did not take it in the fall because of time constraints.

“My professor convinced me to join last minute and I am glad she did,” she said.

Stachowski was notified of her third-place prize at the end of January, and she said she was shocked when she received the phone call.

“I lost part of my file the night before it was due for the competition deadline, and threw together everything I could to make up for what I lost just in time to submit it,” she said. “I never imagined I’d place after something like that.”

Stachowski will present her idea at the International Housewares Association Show during the first week in March.

Senior Sunoh Daniel Choe received an honorable mention for his design of a towel rack, bathroom-organizer combination.

He said his idea his and his roommates’ need for more drying space encouraged him to create his product.

“I chose to design an elegant, hassle-free towel rack extension and bathroom organizer,” Choe said.  “I was motivated to design something for towels initially because my roommate and I had the problem of not having enough space to dry our towels in the bathroom we shared.  We had to resort to using work-around alternatives to dry our towels and I thought there should be an easier way to extend a pre-existing towel rack without having to drill any new holes into an apartment we only rent.”

Choe said his design eventually shifted towards a primarily female target demographic.

“After a bunch of interviews and short surveys, I quickly found out most guys don’t care about how well their towels dry and women were frequently dealing with the problem of storing their curling irons, straighteners and towels in their bathrooms,” Choe said.

Choe said the weeks he spent working on their respective projects with Stachowski after the 2012 fall semester ended were crucial to the successful design of their products.

“The extra hours that [Stachowski] and I put in eventually paid off as we both received recognition,” Choe said.

(link to Observer article)