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Industrial Design Alum Wins Gold in her First Competition

Young BangYoung 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 says. 

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 bigger picture."


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