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FastCo honors trio of ID projects in Innovation by Design Awards

Student and faculty work spans health care, the food industry, and policy

By Andrew Connor

Every year for the past 10 years design publication Fast Company has highlighted projects and designs that have tremendous societal impact and solved problems through innovation. This year students and faculty at the Institute of Design have been honored for three design projects spanning health care, the food industry, and the global pandemic response.

Design is not just a beauty contest. It’s something that can change the world and create solutions in a time when we face pressing global issues such as systemic racism, climate change, and a global pandemic.
—Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company

Perhaps the most timely project honored, Tactical Design for Pandemics—led by Carlos Teixeira, the Charles L. Owen Professor in Design—studied responses to the pandemic in four countries—the United States, South Korea, Italy, and China—and examined the infrastructures that emerged in these countries in response to the pandemic. From there, students were able to extrapolate emerging strategies and imperatives to consider in future pandemic situations.

Similarly, a project by ID’s Sustainable Solutions Workshop, also led by Teixeira, took a systematic approach to understanding and improving Chicago’s food ecosystem. Students and faculty ideated and prototyped food infrastructures that fit into the Good Food Purchasing Program, a framework for developing healthy, equitable, and environmentally sustainable means of food procurement. 

The final project honored by FastCo came out of a product design workshop led by ID faculty member Marty Thaler. Students' work led to a design concept for CareBand, a Chicago startup that is creating wearable devices for individuals living with dementia. The design students aimed to create a wearable that not only shares information with caretakers about the individual’s location, but would also be fashionable and provide some independence to reduce the stigma of living with the condition.

This continued recognition from Fast Company for IIT Institute of Design demonstrates the importance of the issues our students work on—in this case, design that spans healthcare, sustainability, and technology. It also demonstrates how critical design is for making a better world.

Denis Weil, dean, IIT Institute of Design

Other ID projects have been honored by FastCo’s awards programs in recent years. Last year, an ID project called Non-Moving Violations: Advancing Equity among Low-income, Minority Chicago Residents was an Innovation by Design finalist. Additionally, ID’s Miranda Rights Translation Project and Inclusion Diagnostic Floor Plan Tool were FastCo World Changing Ideas.

Bravo, award-winning ID students and alumni!

Harini Balu
Justin Bartkus
Vaaibhav Bhardwaj
Kanal Chhajed
Todd Cooke
Mridula Dasari
Jessica DeMeester
Ananya Garg
Dmytri Gouba
Jack Gerber
Mrinali Gokani
Audrey Gordon
Grace Hanford
Alvin Jin
Yoichi Kanayama
Hong Pyo Kim
Suri (Shuyi) Liu
Esther H. Lee
Zhongyang Li
Haiping Liao
Pinakee Naik
Katie Petersen
Tanvi Ranka
Jason Romano
R. McKinley Sherrod
Brian Siegfried
J. Smyk
Yutian (Tony) Sun
Azra Sungu
Xiaoqiao Tang
Andreya Veintimilla
Justin Walker
Alpha Wong
Wanshan Wu
Yueyue Yang
Nanxi Yu
Jianwei Zhang
Siyan (Callie) Zhou

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Transforming Chicago's food ecosystem for everyone's benefit
Destigmatizing dementia with design