By Derek Woellner —
Back in mid-February, UW–Stout News beat us to the punch and published the story of a Stout Industrial design student placing third in the 23rd annual Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association. But now, Stoutonia has gotten an exclusive interview with the student for a follow-up report.
Senior Keaton Van’t Hull received a cash prize and a trip to the International Home and Housewares Show for his top-ranking design.
Stoutonia communicated with Van’t Hull as he attended this year’s show in Chicago, where his design was displayed in front of more than 50,000 people. That’s more than twice the population of Menomonie.
The show was held at the McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center. Businesses from all over the world came to set up over 2,100 exhibitions this year. In other words, the show is a big deal.
“The amount of work companies put into their booths is insane, huge displays, mock stores, products everywhere. I’ve spent most of my time manning my kiosk explaining my project to people and talking about the process, said Van’t Hull. “Most of what you see here is things like appliances, kitchenware and accessories.”
Van’t Hull’s project was a sleek coffee table that stores two folding chairs neatly inside it.
“The table top uses a spring loaded hinge that lifts the surface up and back without disturbing anything on top. It can also be used while open or closed, so you can use it at two heights. This project was done over an entire semester, much of it was spent making the model, at least 3 weeks,” explained Van’t Hull.
Attending the show had some side benefits as well.
“One of the best parts of winning this is the food. We get snacks and free lunch. It might seem lame but for a college student, free amazing food is a great prize,” said Van’t Hull.
The food wasn’t the only amazing thing Van’t Hull experienced on the trip.
“The hotel is amazing; I’m staying at the Westin River North Hotel and it’s great. If Housewares didn’t fund things like this, I would have never had the chance to meet so many people and get so much attention for my work. I have also met a lot of Stout grads who are now professionals.”
Van’t Hull’s portrayal of the trip makes it sound like it was a blast, but what are his plans for the other half of his winnings, the cash prize?
“My plans for the money go about as far as the Walmart in Menomonie for groceries,” said Van’t Hull.