Designer Maria highlighted in IDSA SMA Awards

Every year, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) celebrates exceptional undergraduate and graduate student design talent through the Student Merit Awards (SMA). This initiative offers a national platform for students to submit their work, showcasing their creativity, problem-solving skills, and design brilliance to a distinguished panel of design leaders.

The Winter issue of Innovation, IDSA's quarterly magazine, may have found its way to your desk this holiday season. Within its pages, the magazine highlights the exceptional achievements of the 2023 Student Merit Award winners, providing readers with a captivating glimpse into the extraordinary design talent shaping the industry's future worldwide. We are delighted to announce that Maria Basile, a designer at Design Central, played an important role as a judge in this prestigious competition.

Maria's affiliation with IDSA spans five years, during which she has served as the IDSA Columbus Chapter co-chair for the past two years. Her leadership in the central Ohio region positively impacts local designers looking to foster connections, develop professionally, and engage in local events. One of Maria’s favorite aspects of serving in IDSA is collaborating with Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio State University, and International Center for Creativity for their SMA Finalist Selection Night.

This past year was Maria’s first time judging the final round of the national competition. Invited by IDSA, Maria was eager to contribute her young professional perspective to the panel. With just two years post-graduation, Maria's fresh outlook and connection to college students provided a unique perspective.

Reflecting on her experience judging the Student Merit Awards, Maria was intrigued by the refreshing diversity among the projects. “It was interesting and inspiring to see both the traditional industrial design projects and those that are more unexpected,” said Maria. Furthermore, Maria identified recurring themes in projects related to medical advances, sustainability, and smart devices—topics that resonate deeply here at Design Central.

Students who conveyed a compelling narrative especially stood out to Maria. "The students who could tell a story and highlight their 'why' allowed me to understand their decision-making process better and gave me a greater appreciation for their final solution," she continues.

Overall, Maria’s experience judging the Student Merit Awards provided her with a valuable opportunity for professional development and further solidified her appreciation for being genuinely connected to the design community.

For an in-depth look at the 2023 Student Merit Award winners, visit