Michigan Design Prize 2023

By Ryan Featherstone, Senior Industrial Designer

The Design Prize is an annual competition celebrating the development of Michigan’s young design talent throughout the state. Tekna has supported this growing challenge since 2017!

This year’s prompt was to design a physical product that promotes the enjoyment of Michigan’s lakes, rivers, and water parks. These solutions must focus on the needs and desires of Kindergarten through 12th grade. Tekna teamed up with a 4th and 5th grade group from Lakewood Elementary located in Holland, MI. These students took their design visions to the next level, focusing on new experiences and the needs of their target users. New this year, Tekna also collaborated with two CCS students, one assigned to each project. We provided Industrial Design insight and created compelling visuals to help bring the student’s solutions to life.


Their idea is centered around the growing subscription industry while adapting this thinking for more local users. Their monthly subscription box, branded “Great Waves,” showcases a variety of Michigan cities and their water resources. The subscription box provides students with water-themed toys, candies, and information on attractions for planning a trip to the city. The Great Waves design allows students to have a more interactive experience, providing a map that shows where they’ve been, while also including vials to collect sand from the places they visit. This solution helps create memorable experiences while promoting local Michigan businesses. The 4th-grade students took home a silver medal for their design!


These empathetic students recognized a problem within their class. Students with Autism cannot enjoy the water like most kids. This group worked to solve this problem by designing the “Super Support Suit.” This suit allows children with Autism to enjoy the Michigan waters without their parents continuously worrying. It communicates with their parents via smartphone, by providing heart rate information. Thinking through the needs of their friends with Autism, these students included textured surfaces, interactive buttons, and other specific details that catered to their necessities. This inspiring team won gold in the final competition for M-Prize!


Tekna hosted the students onsite for a brainstorming session where we focused on capturing their creativity and working on collaboration skills to refine their solutions. After understanding their final designs, we created one-page visual renderings that helped tell the narrative of each group solution.

It was great to see how natural it was for these students to creatively solve problems. Their excitement and insights were truly inspiring. We’re always thrilled to provide design guidance and share a taste of our profession to help pave the road for future designers!

Recommended Posts