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Published: 2014-02-12

Kevin Gaunt winner of 2014 IxDA Student Design Challenge

NEWS IxDA, the global Interaction Design Association, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have announced the winner of this year’s student challenge at Interaction14 in Amsterdam, a yearly conference for interaction designers. Umeå Institute of Design’s interaction student Kevin Gaunt from Switzerland impressed and was awarded first prize.

Kevin Gaunt, first year master student in interaction design, was challenged to focus on the design of the experience of the child health record. The child health record is a critical component of current health information systems worldwide. This is also a key focus of the work done by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

– The IxDA Student Challenge is a great opportunity for our programme and students to connect with the international front end of industry and academia in the growing field of interaction design. I am very glad that Kevin won this year's Student Challenge, and I am not at all surprised. He is a very good example of what students from UID are capable of and it will be a privilege to follow his future career, says Niklas Andersson, director of Umeå Institute of Design’s master programme in interaction design.

Over six million children under the age of five died last year; more than half of these deaths could have been prevented with existing interventions. The global public health community could save millions of lives in the coming years by gaining the trust of families and informing them about how to access effective information about healthcare and hygiene. But, health organizations remain challenged by how to reach remote populations with life-saving health information when these children or their parents do not speak their country’s national language or cannot read. Rethinking and designing that experience was at the heart of this year’s challenge.

The solution developed by Kevin Gaunt was to encourage word-of-mouth sharing of health information in a narrative form - similar to the communities’ own fables. After a person hears the story, they are given an amulet with a stone from the village and encouraged to retell the story when someone asks what the amulet means.

Skye Gilbert of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said: “Kevin’s solution can scale quickly and brings health information into the community dialogue using people’s downtime. With the use of a pebble, strung on a necklace like an amulet, he tied an artifact to storytelling that would normally be of no value. It reinforces the memory of the information. With the use of a pebble he has created something meaningful from a commonly available natural object.”

– I feel incredibly humble to have been part of this fantastic student design competition and the IxDA community standing behind it. It has been a great opportunity to show what we learn at Umeå Institute of Design in just one semester. And maybe most importantly, because of the involvement of the Gates Foundation, I feel like I have learned a huge amount about the bigger problems in life that many people have to face every day, says Kevin Gaunt. 

IxDA runs the annual Student Challenge to showcase the best practices coming out of interaction design programs worldwide while giving student finalists the opportunity to demonstrate their skills to potential employers. Finalists were selected from an international pool of exceptional graduate and undergraduate students and were invited—free of charge—to Amsterdam where they participated in a three-day challenge at IJsfontein Interactive Media.

The five IxDA Design Challenge finalists this year were Dharmesh Ba and Karan Dudeja (National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India), Julie Blitzer & Hadar Geva (Domus Academy, Milan, Italy), Melody Kim (UC San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA) and Nidhi Jalwal (University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA), as well as Umeå Institute of Design’s Kevin Gaunt.

About Umeå Institute of Design:
Umeå Institute of Design at Umeå University educates the industrial designers of tomorrow in a creative and international environment. The institute, founded in 1989, is one of the world’s leading industrial design educations, and has been top ranked internationally for a number of years.

UID’s master programme in Interaction Design is a two year programme that offers exciting opportunities for designers to extend their existing skills into new territory of user experience where the focus is on people’s needs rather than technological capability. UID’s vision for interaction design is not only about the design of the object but also about the object of design. The programme has students from 18 different countries and the education is built around projects, in close cooperation with Swedish and international collaboration partners from industry.

More about the master programme in Interaction design More about Interaction14High resolution photo of Kevin Gaunt

Contact Information:

Niklas Andersson, Programme Director - Master Programme in Interaction Design at Umeå Institute of DesignPhone: +46 90 786 70 34

Kevin Gaunt, master student in interaction design at Umeå Institute of DesignPhone Sweden: +46 (0) 706 233 207Phone Switzerland: +41 (0) 786 623 669Email:
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Editor: Anna-Lena Lindskog