Michigan Design Prize 2017 - The Fuzzy Helmet and Sled

By Sarah Hollingsworth, Design Research

This fall, we participated in the second annual Michigan Design Prize, a design education and awareness program sponsored by the Michigan Design Council. The annual competition focused on inspiring, developing, and celebrating design talent for K-12 and collegiate-level students. Participants are given a single design challenge linked to Michigan and larger societal issues, tasking them to think like designers and to work to solve an authentic problem. Winners are awarded a chance to collaborate with top industrial design professionals throughout the state, helping them bring their ideas to life and showcase their product concept.

Michigan Design Prize - The fuzzy helmet sled - Michigan Design Council

This year’s challenge was to design a physical product that helps people safely enjoy Michigan winters. We partnered with a group of four second graders who invented the “Fuzzy Buckle Helmet and Sled with Seatbelt.” In their words, “The helmet is designed to be comfortable and something that kids would want to wear. The sled has a seatbelt to keep kids comfortable, safe, and warm. It even comes with a helmet holder so that you never forget it. As a bonus, when you remove your helmet to wear it, you can put your favorite stuffed animal in the holder so that you always have your fuzzy friend with you.”

The students visited Tekna so that they could see what it’s like to work as an industrial designer, meeting our team and telling us about their idea. While they shared their vision, our designers were sketching in real-time, documenting the coziest, safest, and coolest-looking sled the kids could think of. We completed dozens of concept sketches that we later shared with the students. They gave us feedback until we reached the final rendering that was sent to the Design Council. On October 18th, we attended the awards ceremony in Ann Arbor, where the team won bronze in the K-2 category!

It was such a fun and enriching experience working with the kids and taking part in a program that supports creative culture, local industry growth, and design education for young talent. We can’t wait to brainstorm Design Prize 2018 concepts!

Next year’s challenge will be to design a physical product that helps people enjoy and explore Michigan’s parks. To learn more about Michigan Design Prize, including school participation opportunities, visit www.michigandesigncouncil.org.

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