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MIAD Product Design senior wins a top international award

What do you do when you’re a Product Design major at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) and want to redesign an existing houseware product to meet the needs of the future? If you’re Carl Sabroff ’24, you design the Wobble planter and go on to win one of the top prizes at the International Housewares Association’s (IHA) 31st annual Student Design Competition.

This year, IHA received a record-breaking 358 entries from 31 schools around the world and selected winning products based on their innova­tion, understanding of production and marketing principles and quality of entry materials. Sabroff was awarded third place and a cash prize.

“The research phase of any project is definitely one of my favorite parts of the design process because of the human interaction,” says Sabroff. “Firsthand experience is invaluable in any project because you learn little things that nobody else knows [and] you can gain knowledge that you had no idea you needed for a project.”

Sabroff adds that he showed his 3D printed models to a bartender whom he had never spoken to. The psychology major at a local college thought the product a “great idea because of the mental health benefits plants provide to people with PTSD, or anxiety or depression, which ultimately made it into the final presentation for the Wobble. This is why I love design as an art form,” Sabroff says.

Originally creating the concept for MIAD’s Annual Holiday Sale (where the Wobble sold out), Sabroff partnered with Brady VanderHart ’24 (Communication Design) on the branding and marketing. VanderHart is also an award-winning student, having been named a Student to Watch 2024 by Graphic Design USA magazine (GDUSA).

Speaking on Fox6 News about the Wobble on November 27, 2023, Sabroff said, “We were doing trend research, and there’s this trend emerging in millennial plant owners that they shake their plants…. The idea is that it’s simulating the outdoor experience of a plant… [It’s] meant to strengthen the plant, the roots and the stem, and it also gives the user a more interactive purpose to your plant.”

Summing up his process, Sabroff adds, “Louis Sullivan said, ‘Form follows function,’ and function follows research, trends, cost research, all of which comes together to create a novel item that is available to the consumer.”

The winning students and their products will be at The Inspired Home Show 2024, IHA’s global home and housewares marketplace, March 17 – 19 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The winners and their products can also be viewed on the show’s website.

Sabroff and VanderHart are busily working on their capstone senior projects, on view at the MIAD 2024 Senior Exhibition April 19 – May 11. Learn more about MIAD’s Product Design and Communication Design majors.

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