"Design as a glue for using multiple points of view to address current global challenges"





















Credits Andrei Popa courtesy of the Danish Design Center


There are four main areas in which designers around the globe worked to improve life in 2011: Education, Healthcare, On-line services and Transforming cities, according to INDEX:Award.


Using “design as a glue for multiple points of view to address current global challenges” (Assaf Biderman, MIT) and “Stumbling into a problem which shouldn’t be there to start building the answer” (David Mikkelsen, Refugees United) is the vision behind the finalist works.

Three designthinking Core Criteria stand behind the nominees' selection: FORM, which is translated by the shape, material, the colors and the surfaces of the designs. IMPACT, which focuses on the the designs' proven or potential positive impact on peoples' lives. CONTEXT which evaluates if the design fits the communities  where it's supposed to function. Out of almost 1000 design thinking projects openly submitted from 72 countries, 61 just made it into the finals. The winners of the five categories will receive 100,000 Euro each and are to be revealed first week of September, during the Copenhagen Design Week.


 Shortlisted Cases


 Category: BODY

 The Glow Guardian, Iran




















A black chador, usually worn by Iranian women even while on the dark streets at night one of the main cause for women traffic accidents in Iran. A  reflective, traditional Islamic ornament has been printed on the black fabric, turning the chador into a Glow Guardian and making it easy for the driver to see and avoid the pedestrian women.





The Hövding, Sweden












A stylish, invisible airbag which protects the cyclist's hairstyle and   head at the same time.

Every year, about 30,000 people are injured or die in bike-related traffic accidents in Sweden alone.

Many of these accidents would have been a lot less serious if the cyclists were wearing bike helmets.

The main reason for not wearing such bike helmets research has shown is for fear of ruining the hairstyle.









The Copenhagen Wheel

A detachable wheel device for your bicycle that makes you feel like ciclying on flat when you're up on the heel, uses your energy when you break and makes you feel lighter when you get tired. well, yes, it can also be iPhone remoted.





















A smart sensing device to be attached to any bicycle, with sensors inside the wheel gathering information that help you pick less polluted bike routes, achieve exercise goals or challenge others to ride more. The wheel uses a technical solution (a motor and batteries with regeneration capabilities) to help people overcome distance and topography together with a real-time data network and a series of cycling-related mobile applications to support city infrastructure creation and foster a sense of safety.


 The Green School,  Indonesia


 An unconventional school, environmently friendly built and inspiring Earth care to its  students.

The 75 school's buildings are cooled and powered with renewable energy sources like micro-hydro power, solar power and bio-diesel. Bamboo, lalang-alang grass (a local grass) and traditional mud walls form the structure of the buildings. The school is on an organic permaculture system.

Students also study academic subjects (math, English, science) but with a creative and sustainable mindset and applied focus on studies like carbon footprint analysis, water studies, organic farming and gardening, where each class has its own flower/vegetable garden where students design, prepare, tend, harvest, cook, and eat.


Category: HOME

 The Secret Life Series


 Short, engaging videos highlighting the environmental impact of consumer choices.

The Secret Life Series are easy, accessible and informative 5-6 minute videos that raise awareness about the environmental impacts of everyday items. The Secret Life of Cell Phones, The Secret Life of Paper and The Secret Life of Beef have been released; 12 more videos are planned.



Category: PLAY

The Dream Ball Project , Seoul

Using aid boxes to make footballs





















The Dream Ball is a football made of recycled relief boxes.  Once the boxes are empty of supplies, they can be made into footballs by following the instructions.


 The Learning Landscape


 The time for conventional education, especialy when it comes to kids is finelly coming to an end. The Learning Landscape is another example of learning through serious play: an educational playground where kids can learn while they play.























Category: WORK

Ask Nature


AskNature is a free, online library of nature’s survival strategies, organized by function. It provides designers, chemists, engineers and architects access to over a thousand strategies that can help reduce dependence on non-renewable energy, obtain and purify water, sequester carbon, manufacture without toxic chemicals or waste and more.






Previous winners turned into mature products.


The Life Straw , 2005  INDEX: Award  Winner

















INDEX: Award selection criteria also carry the Danish design thinking DNA: aesthetic is always met by functionality, human needs are at the core, innovation only happens after transformation did its job. It embodies a user driven design versus a storytelling design, giving people the playground to tell the stories themselves:


The beginning of the ME media (people broadcasting their lifestory through technology) but the end of the ME culture


“It’s the end of the ME culture or National Cultures. Time for a global culture has come in a diverse world seeking solutions to global challenges that we are all facing together.” Nille Juul Sørensen  Jury Chairman.

Can design solve all these problems?



















 Image Image credits Andrei Popa courtesy of the Danish Design Center


 It can definitely help.  Using the Design Thinking tools and principle and a Think Human mindset, many more of the current global challenges can drive to innovative answers and solutions to improve peoples’ lives.






















Image credits Andrei Popa courtesy of the Danish Design Center 


 Transformation vs Innovation

For functional efficiency oriented reason, Innovation for the sake of chasing fast consuming newness and keeping up a faster and faster peace of change only, might come to an end. It is slowly being replaced with continuous improvement, re-using old structures into different patterns, re-distribute functionality, transform, start from a platform and make it better or take it into a different direction. Everything can be improved, therefore innovation (as a major paradigm shift) only happens after making sure nothing from the old structures could be redistributed with different use, anymore.



The Designer


Anyone able to transform a current situation into a desired situation is a designer” Jens Wittrup-Willumsen, Chairman of the Board,  INDEX: Award 2011.


Many of the 61 selected design team members don’t consider themselves as designers in the traditional sense but rather as the designers of a solution, or a  vision. They have the persistency to follow their idea much longer then originally intended: “we thought the Anti Sleep Pilot will take us a year; and here we are, developing it and the solution around for about 5 years; but I will definitely continue to care for my baby, even though I won’t breast feed it forever” (Troels Palshof, The Anti Sleep Pilot). And they are also able to move forward into another project or into the challenge of a new solution every time they feel they can “have a huge or meaningful impact on something” Assaf Biderman,  (MIT).


Investors around the world,  it’s time to look into Design


To help awarded designers in using the 100.000 EUR and attract even more money into finishing the development of the product or service they envisioned, INDEX is setting up an investment committee through which international business people can partner into the awarded projects.


Research the 2011 awarded cases and visit the Design to improve lives permanent exhibition at the Danish Design Museum  during the  Copenhagen Design Week or visit the exhibition while travelling through the partner cities, Helsinky and Singapore.


Other Design to improve life case studies to be dissembled and featured on the  Design Thinking Network soon.


Andreea Hirica,

Desigh Thinking Network

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Customer discovery - would love your thoughts

Started by Nikki. Last reply by Arne van Oosterom Nov 30, 2017. 1 Reply

Human-centered design and service work?

Started by Christopher Federer Oct 12, 2017. 0 Replies

Promoting my book

Started by Aaron A. Palileo Sep 12, 2017. 0 Replies




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