Josh Butz, a sustainable design graduate student, took third place at the Collab Student Design Competition for his sustainable, hobo-inspired travel bag.
Josh Butz, a sustainable design graduate student at Philadelphia University, won third-place in the prestigious Collab Student Design Competition this week for his innovative bag inspired by the stick-and-pouch versions carried by hobos.
Butz’s bag was made primarily of highly sustainable materials hemp and burlap, and its teardrop shape was contoured to fit one’s back. The bag is supported with a long stick Butz whittled from a pine tree branch
“I wanted to think outside the box,” Butz said. “Most bags have straps, so I thought of a hobo bag, where you’re going somewhere, you’re not sure where, maybe to find something new. I wanted to bring back passion to traveling.”
The design caught the judges’ eyes for its originality and timeless quality, said sustainable design faculty member Wendy Byar, who assigned the Collab project for a green materials course.
The 19th annual Collab student competition, which is sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was held this year in conjunction with the museum exhibit Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion, a tribute to the Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s work. Collab student winners will be honored for their work at a Nov. 19 awards ceremony at the museum.
For this year’s competition, students were challenged to design an overnight bag that brings fun and function back to today’s travelers. There were 115 entries, the most ever, from students at seven design schools, including Pratt Institute in New York and the University of Pennsylvania.
The Collab judges were Susan Szenasy, editor in chief of Metropolis Magazine; Kirsten Climer, designer for Smart Design Worldwide; John Edelman, president and CEO of Design Within Reach; Victor Sanz, design director for Tumi Inc.; and Janet Villano, vice president of product development for Skiphop.
“Josh’s success in the Collab competition is a tribute both to his creativity and knowledge as well as the interdisciplinary focus of the sustainable design program, which encourages students to think outside the box in developing solutions to design problems large and small,” said Rob Fleming, director of the sustainable design program.
Butz, who worked as an engineer for five years before enrolling in the sustainable design program this fall, is interested in green building design and said the program has “brought back a big passion for me.” He did a life cycle analysis of materials for his Collab design, choosing hemp, burlap, recycled piping and the pine tree branch for their sustainable properties.
PhilaU students have had a very successful track record at the Collab competition. Most recently, industrial design student Jordan Cammarata won first place in 2009 for his clever and whimsical pull-chain lamp. Butz is the first PhilaU sustainable design student to win the competition.
The designs of this year’s student winners will be presented Saturday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m., in the Van Pelt Auditorium of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at which time Hadid will accept the Collab Design Excellence Award and give a lecture. Student tickets for Hadid’s lecture are available for $15. For information, call the museum ticket center at 215-235-7469.