February 05, 2018

2018 Role Models Competition

Allison Sloan

Many of the materials typically used in art & design schools today can be unhealthy — meaning they can pose harm to the planet or present risk to human health. Some never biodegrade. Some can never be recycled which creates waste and pollution. Others contain harmful chemicals like flame-retardants (yuck!), antimicrobials (gross!), or VOCs (eww!).

Thanks to significant innovation in the material sciences, there are now materials that minimize harm to designers, fabricators, communities, and the global environment. There has also been a recent push to reimplement a host of healthier materials from the past. 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 second annual Role Models Contest for the Spring Semester of 2018! 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.

This year we will be awarding prizes in two categories:

1. For the first category we will be awarding one $1000 grand prize and two $500 runner up prizes for healthy material innovation in a Model, Prototype, or Artwork. Any student who demonstrates groundbreaking use of healthier materials during the Spring 2018 Semester is eligible.

In order to showcase your support and use of healthier materials in every aspect of your project, you must document your model-making process through pictures, drawings, short videos, etc. You must also provide samples of the materials you used with your submissions. Additional guidelines are provided below.  

Remember — designs are never made in a vacuum. Whether considered or not, their impacts are far-reaching, inescapable, and inarguable. So, 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.

Submission Requirements:

  • Contact information including name, phone number, and email address.
  • Project information including materials used, project description, course name, course number, professor name.
  • 7-10 project images (under 1MB), videos, drawings and/or other means of demonstrating your support of healthier materials, including any coatings and/or adhesives used.
  • All submissions must be submitted electronically. 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?

Document 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?

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.

Submit here for healthy material innovation in a Model, Prototype or Artwork:

2. We’ve added a second category this year to allow students from concentrations outside the design field to participate and showcase their personal advocacy for creating a healthier world by way of storytelling through any type of media. For this category we will also be awarding one $1000 grand prize and two $500 runner up prizes.

This is your chance to be a creative activist.

We accept film, a piece of writing, spoken-word, recorded music or anything else that promotes advocacy for a healthier built environment. For this category you must share your work and include with it a short description of your process in creating it and your motivation for doing so. For example, if you were to submit a poem we ask for one paragraph detailing your experience and motivation, even if it seems self-explanatory.

Judging Criteria For Second Category:

  • How effectively does your submission illustrate advocacy for building awareness and making change?
  • Are you acting as a role model?
  • How well are you communicating your argument and describing the issue?
  • Does your work have the capacity to influence your peers?

Submit here for personal advocacy for creating a healthier world by way of storytelling through any type of media:

General Judging:

Winning projects will be chosen by a jury of designers, architects, and faculty. It will be at the jurors' discretion to determine the number of winners.

The Jury:

Judges will be announced.

The Healthy Materials Lab

The Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design is an interdisciplinary, international, and professionally diverse collective dedicated to a world in which people’s health is placed at the center of all design decisions. Committed to raising awareness about toxins in building products and to creating resources for the next generation, the Lab has been passionately looking for alternatives to all physical materials with human safety and wellness as the primary focus. Inspired by how these new products have the potential to transform how students and faculty think about materials in the design process, the Healthy Materials Lab is excited to see what innovations 2017 and the Role Models Competition will develop.

Want more information? Visit our Why Healthy Materials page.

Want to stay involved? Visit our site here, take the pledge, and register for monthly updates.

For additional information and resources, visit our library.