Industrial and interaction design (IID) students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) School of Design partnered with the community-led invention platform Quirky to deliver a one-of-a-kind invention experience. When the students returned from winter break to the Nancy Cantor Warehouse for the start of the spring semester, they were greeted by Quirky industrial design lead and IID alumnus Lex Zelekowitz ’17 and briefed on their Quirky invention challenge, “The World’s Greatest Party Host,” to design the next generation of party-planning and hosting products.
The students were engaged and excited about the challenge, with multiple groups starting their brainstorming exercises within minutes following the brief.
“This was a great group project, where students from freshmen to seniors had a chance to practice defining problems, communicating the solution and thinking about possible production methods,” says Denise Heckman, associate professor and program coordinator of IID. “The collaboration was fantastic. Solutions truly emerged from anyone on the team.”
Nearly 100 students participated in the invention challenge, and more than 20 ideas were submitted over the two-week period. The students will vie for the opportunity to be chosen to preview their invention idea live on Quirky partner HSN’s show “American Dreams,” a program designed to tap into the joy and excitement of discovering new entrepreneurs.
The winning product or products will be selected in March. As new members of the Quirky community, students will also have the ability to receive product royalties if their idea is chosen and commercialized.
“We invest in the younger generations because tech is the face of the future. Eighty percent of jobs in the next decade will require technology skills, and we believe partnerships like the one we have with VPA will help prepare students for their careers,” says Gina Waldhorn, president of Quirky.
Founded in 2009 with a mission to “make invention accessible,” Quirky brings new products to market by connecting a global community of inventors to established manufacturers. At the nexus of technology-enabled cultural trends like the maker movement, community creativity and the demand for meaningful product backstories, Quirky has challenged the status quo of invention to become a major force in the product development landscape. Quirky has launched more than 150 products across categories including electronics, home and kitchen, and more than one million active community members share in the product royalties.