Industrial Design Alum Wins Gold in her First Competition
Young Bang saw the need for a better product
for women. Not only did she meet that need, she exceeded it.
A 2008 graduate of the School of Industrial Design, Young earned the Gold Award from the 2009
Businessweek IDEA competition in the Student Design category.
Her product, the Cheers Menstrual Cup, combines comfort and environmental consciousness to
create a menstrual cup that is made from reusable materials and features a unique design.
"I researched a lot of products out there and thought of other possibilities," she
says. "Menstrual cups had a history and a following for a reason, so I decided to redesign it
with usability and women's thoughts and behaviors in mind."
Designing it was not without its challenges, though.
"It was an awkward, taboo subject, but this made the project all the more interesting," she
The class in which the product was designed was split into groups for input and
brainstorming. Young's group had four men in it.
"That was an interesting experience," she says, "but actually being in that group helped me
feel free to talk about the subject to just about anyone."
The environmental angle was a key concern for her. After reviewing the products that
have traditionally been available to women, Young considered issues beyond just the user.
"As a woman, I know there are not many good menstrual products out there and most are
wasteful," she says. "I think it's really a shame, because menstruation is a big part of
women's lives. I wanted to design something better."
The simplicity of the project is something Young is uniquely proud of.
"I like that the project was not just about the product itself, but the strategy of making
menstrual cups successful in the market," she says. "I also like how these things were
totally inspired by women who are trying to make a greener world."
The win is a first for Young. She didn't enter competitions as a student. She
says she never considered it. That made winning more surprising.
"It seemed unreal. Honestly, I really like my project and I thought it had a good
chance of getting some recognition, but gold was definitely a surprise."
She points to Academy faculty for her success--namely, Industrial Design School Director Tom
Matano. As the instructor on her project, Matano provided insight, experience and guidance to
help bring it to life.
"He's an amazing teacher," she says. "I owe a lot of the project's success to his keen
direction. Also, the great classmates I met at Academy of Art University had a lot to do with
how I think. The whole experience at the Academy helped me develop as a designer."
Her advice for fellow Industrial Design students: "Keep drawing. Don't lose site of the