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Notre Dame students to design for Electrolux

Gelhaus, Anna | Thursday, March 18, 2004

The University’s Department of Art, Art History and Design has been selected by appliance giant Electrolux to represent the United States in the company’s Global Design Laboratory 2004.

Electrolux is the world’s largest producer of household appliances. They chose eight schools from around the world to create appliance designs that will save consumers time and reflect their lifestyles.

As announced in Wednesday’s ceremony at the Snite Museum, industrial design students are collaborating with MBA students from Mendoza College of Business to design and market household products to be showcased at an international conference in New York this October. The products will be part of a worldwide media campaign.

Xuan Yu, a graduate student in industrial design, is one of the team leaders for the project. She admitted that while the project is a lot of work, she believes that it will all be worthwhile.

“We learn from class, but we need practical experience,” Yu said. “By cooperating with the MBA students, we experience the whole process of actual design.”

The project takes the students through marketing, focus groups, survey work, sketching and development and a final presentation.

“It is very complete,” Yu said.

They will be asked to design for a consumer faction that Electrolux will announce next week. The three possible focus groups are urban youth, the environmentally conscientious and elite consumers.

Doug Ritterling, senior industrial designer for Electrolux, attended the reception and said that Notre Dame was chosen as the first representative from the United States because “there is something unusual, something special about this place.” He also cited Notre Dame’s well-respected name, tradition and quality of students.

Ritterling said Electrolux will benefit from student design because “having fresh minds is a great way to innovate. It injects energy.”

Ritterling also told student designers to “win one for the Gipper in the world of design.”

Paul Down, Notre Dame’s industrial design group director, spoke at the ceremony on the opportunity and honor that the selection will bring to the University.

“This is an opportunity I hope we can begin to grasp, because it will offer us international recognition,” Down said. “It is not just about a class, a department or University. It is about in international competition.

“It is an opportunity to understand what it is like to be on a genuine design team.”