Morton Kesten Universal Design Competition 2015

The Annual Morton Kesten Universal Design Competition is in association with the Morton Kesten Summit, which is held every two years and features the latest developments in aging-in-place efforts by organizations and professionals from around California. The intent is to create an opportunity for students across California to develop universally-designed spaces and products for which they will receive recognition.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Morton Kesten Universal Design Competition!
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1st Place Winner
DAGR: Wield the Cursor
Adrian Po Villanueva
California State University, Long Beach, Industrial Design program

2nd Place Winner
Bathroom Re-Design
Genesis Chavez
The Art Institute of California, Inland Empire, Interior Design program

Honorable Mentions
Ariella Cedillo
Inland Empire Art Institute of San Bernardino

Slide Bathroom
Yilin Ma, Yidan Hu, Zhou Li
USC School of Architecture

Thank you to everyone who submitted entries to this year. Details for the 2016 Universal Design Competition are coming soon!

Definition: Architect Ron Mace defined Universal Design as “the design of products and environments to be USABLE by ALL people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

The 7 Principles of Universal Design as developed by the Center for Universal Design can be found at:

The Challenge:
To create an innovative design using the principles of Universal Design that support aging-in-place in one of two areas:

  1. Space: to reconceptualize an existing kitchen/bath space or create a brand new kitchen/bath space, or
  2. Product: develop a product/prototype that embraces and utilizes the ideas and principles of Universal Design for use at home.

1st Prize = $1500
2nd Prize = $1000
3rd Prize = $500

Each Award Recipient will also be featured on the following websites:,,


  1. Current California resident students and online students in any state enrolled in a degree granting 2 to 5 year undergraduate or graduate program in the state of California.
  2. Multi-disciplinary teams are strongly encouraged to apply, with a maximum of six (6) members.
  3. Applicants should be willing to sign a media consent form to be recorded and photographed.
  4. Please read about intellectual property as it relates to the Universal Design Competition here.

Submission Process:

  • The deadline to enter the competition is Tuesday, December 15th at 11:59PM PDT.
  • Submit digital entries to
  • Visual presentations and prototypes can be dropped off or mailed to 3715 McClintock Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90089, c/o Linda Broder, post marked by Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
  • Award winners will be notified on Friday, January 15, 2016.
  • There is no fee to enter the competition – submission is free!

Submission Components:

All three of the following components are required for submissions to qualify.

1. Design Process (250-500 words)
Describe how the challenge was approached. Include market research, research about universal design or assistive technology, and the engagement of user/experts.

2. Design Description (250-500 words)
Describe the design created and the degree to which the design efficiently facilitates or augments the users’ ability and experience through the innovative, resourceful, and appropriate application of universal design features. Please identify universal design principals utilized.

3. Visual Presentation
Submit diagrams, sections with scale figures, renderings, photos of models, photos of user/expert research, notations about materials, or details of important features are recommended. Visual presentations and prototypes can be sent via email at, dropped off, or mailed to 3715 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90089, post marked by Tuesday, December 15, 2015. Please indicate if you will be emailing, dropping off or sending by mail.

Judging Criteria:

Submissions will be judged on how well they achieve the following:

  1. Reflect research into the existing market and the design fills a gap in that market
  2. Demonstrate innovative insights by engaging user/experts* in the design process and/or final design* = “user/experts” are people with functional differences that vary from the norm who experience every day how design fails and who can help to provide guidance on solutions (Ostroff, 1997)
  3. Integrate esthetic appeal with function
  4. Address anticipated feasibility and cost-effectiveness in replication or fabrication
  5. Incorporate attention to environmental sustainability in materials and production
  6. Showcase Universal Design Principles (equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, size and space for approach and use)

The panel of judges includes:

  • Mary Lou Dauray, CID, Environmental Artist, Advocate for inclusive spaces and universal design
  • Emily Nabors, MSG, Program Manager, Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
  • Anna Quyen Do Nguyen, OTD, OTR/L, MSG, Instructor, Universal Design Course; Director of Internships, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
  • Roberta Null, PhD, President, Common Place Design
  • Jon Pynoos, PhD, UPS Foundation Professor of Gerontology, Policy and Planning, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
  • Victor Regnier, PhD, AIA, Professor of Architecture, USC School of Architecture

Click here to view the 2014 Universal Design Competition winning submissions

Please fill out an interest form if you would like to participate in the competition!

Interest Form!