January 28, 2019

A chance to win $1000 in our Third Annual Role Models Contest!

Many of the materials typically used in art and design today are unhealthy — meaning they pose harm to the planet, present risk to human health, and contribute to our global carbon footprint. Some materials never biodegrade; some can never be recycled; and others contain harmful chemicals like flame-retardants, antimicrobials, or VOCs.

Design decisions are never made in a vacuum. Whether considered or not, their impacts are far-reaching, inescapable, and inarguable. As a designer, you have to ask yourself: how does what I make impact the world at large? You have to consider not just who you’re designing for, and why, but also with what.

How can healthier materials be used in new and innovative ways? That’s where you come in!

Healthy Materials Lab is excited to announce our third annual Role Models Contest for the Spring Semester of 2019. This contest is your chance to be a role model to the rest of the design world by sharing with us your innovative approach to design and to demonstrate how your creative practices have a positive impact on personal health, the health of your neighbors, and the world at large.

We will be awarding a grand prize of $1000 and runner-up prizes of $500 for healthy material innovation or advocacy in design. Entries can include models, prototype, artwork or visual media.

In order to showcase your support and innovative use of healthier materials in every aspect of your project, you must document your process through pictures, drawings/short videos, etc. You will also be required to annotate a life-cycle diagram summarizing the carbon intensity of your design in order to understand and reduce your impact on climate change. Winning entries may be asked to provide samples of the materials you used in your submissions. Additional guidelines are provided below.


For the first year, we are extending the contest beyond Parsons School of Design. To be eligible to enter, you must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the United States.

Important Dates

Submission Deadline: May 14, 2019
Winners Announced: May 23, 2019

Submission Requirements

You’ll be asked to provide:

-First and Last Name

-Name of your University

-Email address (must be a university issued email address)

-Name of academic program you are enrolled in

-Project title

-A description of your process (100 word limit)

-A description of your motivation or inspiration (100 word limit)

-A description of all materials used, including any coatings and/or adhesives. You must provide evidence to support any claims of healthier materials (Why is your material innovation healthier?) (500 word limit)

-Annotate Life Cycle Diagram to reflect the lifecycle of your design. Consider the impact on human and environmental health at every stage. (Your annotations should fit on the 8.5x11 page and must be legible to be considered)

-At least 3 final project images (under 1MB). All images must be high resolution.

-A maximum of 7 supporting images, videos, drawings and/or other means of demonstrating your process. All images must be high resolution.

All submissions must be submitted electronically here. Finalists may be asked to submit physical material samples.

Judging Criteria

Material Source: Are the materials healthier alternatives to commonly used materials? Are the materials salvaged? Are they safely recycled or reused? Where did you find them?

Documented Benefits or Health Impact
: Record why your material and fabrication choices were made.

Innovation + Creativity
: Give details of your design process, e.g. did you use mechanical joinery instead of adhesives?

Carbon Intensity: How well does your annotated diagram address planetary and human health at every stage of the product’s life-cycle. Do your design decisions reduce the impacts of climate change?

General Aesthetics: Remember, this isn’t a science project. This is a way of improving the creative design work that we do and should be communicated through an equally beautiful model, prototype, or physical design proposal. We want to see innovation that will proliferate, which means aesthetics are important.


Winning projects will be chosen by a jury of materials advocates, designers, architects, and faculty. It will be at the juror’s discretion to determine the number of winners

This year’s jury will be announced.

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