Design grad wins award with stylish solutions to common problems

Illustration of shoe designed for urban bicyclists

The “Urbanized” commuter’s cleated cycling shoe goes from bike to sidewalk.

Product designs win awards by offering elegant solutions to common problems, whether as persistent as indoor air pollution or as transitory as wet feet.

By addressing such concerns with style, Jillian Tackaberry, a recent graduate in industrial design, bested 12 other top students to win the annual Student Merit Award for the six-state Midwest region of the Industrial Design Society of America.

Tackaberry, who graduated May 10, showed three concepts to a panel of design professionals at the society’s Midwest conference in Chicago April 25:

• “Urbanized,” a commuter’s cleated cycling shoe that goes from bike to sidewalk, with a rip-stop nylon cover that protects the entire foot and ankle on rainy or snowy days.  Tackaberry designed it after “seeing other people carrying extra shoes.”

• “Air Drop,” a hanging, decorative air filtration system that allows space-saving, strategic placement of air plants — also known as tillandsia, a genus that grows without soil or water. The plants draw moisture and nutrients from the air, while additional filters trap dust and other particles. Last year, “Air Drop” made Tackaberry a finalist in Electrolux Design Lab’s 2013 international competition for household designs, which drew 1,700 entries worldwide. It was the only North American project to enter the final round.

Tectonic Watch illustration

The minute, hour, date, month and year are represented by a tectonic plate on the watch Tackaberry designed.

• “Tectonic,” a watch with a movement in which the minute, hour, date, month and year are each represented by a tectonic plate. Tackaberry said the idea occurred to her as she read about topography during a snowbound day last winter.

Tackaberry is now a designer at MNML, an award-winning firm in the West Loop that designs electronics, packaging, and other consumer products, where she interned before graduation.

“Jillian is an outstanding example of our new program,” said Stephen Melamed, clinical professor of industrial design, describing the School of Design in the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts.

The school combines “critical thinking with meaningful making” in revised courses and studio practices, Melamed said.

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