FastCo Honors Trio of ID Projects in Innovation by Design Awards



By Andrew Connor
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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,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of FastCo. “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.”

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, they 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 in the Sustainable Solutions Workshop 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 was a product design workshop led by ID faculty member Marty Thaler, which 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 how important the institute's work is—in this case, design that spans health care, sustainability, and technology,” says Denis Weil, dean at ID. “It also demonstrates how central design is to navigating contemporary life.” 

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.

Photo: The CareBand wearable and its app (provided)