Award-Winning Design Owes Much To Sam Farber

It wouldn’t seem right to kick off the 2014 Housewares Design Awards competition without saluting Sam Farber, the iconic housewares entrepreneur who helped inspire the latest generation of successful housewares design innovation.

Farber passed away recently at 88. Among many housewares achievements, he was a standard bearer in the early 1990s for universal design— the terminology for products that can be used with ease by all people— after his creation of a utensil to help his wife, Betsey, cope with arthritis compelled him to found OXO and its original gadgets featuring oversized handles with flexible ridges.

Moment Of Genius

Many current housewares design practitioners still hold Farber’s epiphany as a moment of genius responsible for advancing the entire kitchen tool category. His design vision and retail experience cemented a new methodology for combining form, function and marketability that guides today’s quest for intuitive design invention across multiple household product platforms.

Farber wasn’t the first to convert a better solution into retail success. His imprint on contemporary housewares design, though, is irrevocable.

The backstory for many of the Housewares Design Awards winners through the competition’s first decade resonates with similar visionary tones. This business still opens doors enthusiastically for inventors and marketers of all sizes peddling a better way of life.

As daunting as today’s retailing process can seem, the best ideas have a way of reaching the shelves through sheer persistence by smaller entrepreneurs and astute investment by larger vendors.

It is satisfying to see so many upstart companies still breaking through on the merits of their originality. It is also satisfying to see some of the biggest corporate housewares firms working to escape the commodity bog by recommitting to the discovery of breakthrough design.

Equal Footing

Design innovation should not be judged by the size or status of the design innovator. That’s why everyone is on equal footing when it comes to competing for the Housewares Design Awards.

Entries are being accepted in 12 categories, plus a Green House Award for eco-responsible housewares innovation. The entry deadline is October 25. 

See the special pullout section inside this issue for competition rules and criteria. More information and online entry forms are available at

Increased Exposure

Finalists will be announced in late November, and winners will be announced at a special luncheon and exhibit of finalists February 4 in New York City.

A robust media outreach campaign once again backs the Housewares Design Awards competition. Last year’s campaign generated more than 1,000 consumer editorial placements with a combined circulation of more than 140 million. This year’s campaign promises even more exposure for this industry’s best, new design innovations.

Special thanks to sponsors NY Now (formerly the New York International Gift Fair), Whitford Corporation and Gourmet Insider magazine for their continued support of the industry-wide innovation spotlighted by the Housewares Design Awards program.

The growing importance of the Housewares Design Awards since HomeWorld Business launched the competition in 2003 can be credited to all who have entered believing they are making a difference.

The Housewares Design Awards program also owes a debt of gratitude to Sam Farber and his game-changing inspiration. It is in large part because of him that the quest for better housewares design remains universal.

Thanks, Sam.