Childproof knife block and other award-winning home safety designs on display in Chicago

From March 6 to 8 around 60,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, which, in addition to showcasing a range of the latest housewares, will also present the winning entries in the 18th annual student design competition.

The student design competition is sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA) and has a different theme each year. This year students were tasked with designing products that help children and disabled people live healthier and safer lives. In 2011 the competition attracted 165 entries from 23 design schools across North America and Europe. the winning designs were chosen by a jury of industry professionals and retailers.

The winning entry, announced in February, was the Illumine - The Pathway to Safety which was designed by Welsey York at the University of Southern Illinois. The Illumine is an emergency lighting system which illuminates the floor and guides those inside to safety via a series of LEDs.

Second prize was jointly awarded to Chet Larrow from the University of Cincinnati for the Barnacle Air Purifier and Katyln Ross from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design for her first aid system Quick Fix .

With the aid of a battery-powered motor the Barnacle Air Purifier extracts dirty air, removes pollutants and re-circulates clean air into the home, while the Quick Fix First Aid System organizes the contents of a first aid kit into smaller sections complete with simple instructions - the designer claims this allows first aid decisions to be made faster and the correct supplies easier to access.

Third place was awarded to three candidates, Brendan Joyce from Purdue University, Kevin Wu from the University of Illinois and Yu Zou from Arizona State University. Joyce designed the Safe Guardian, a rubbish disposal unit that automatically shuts down when metallic objects are dropped in it, Wu designed the Eiffel , a single-serve coffee brewer that rests over a cup and Zou designed The Block a knife block with a safety lock which prevents children removing knives.

The latest home accessories and housewares will also be on display later in the year at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center from April 20-23.

The International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago is open to trade professionals only, however consumers can follow the event online via Facebook ( /), Twitter ( ) and YouTube ( /).