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Products and Design
7 Game-Changing, Design-Centric Social Innovations Shortlisted for World Design Impact Prize

At its 28th General Assembly held November 18-19 in Montreal, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) announced the seven projects shortlisted for its World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014 cycle.

Established by ICSID, the World Design Impact Prize honors and rewards industrial design-driven projects that are making a positive impact on our social, economic, cultural and/or environmental quality of life. It leverages ICSID’s vast global membership network to champion possible solutions to global issues such as poverty and the effects of industrialization and consumerism on sustainability and society.

"Now in its second iteration, it is bringing attention to some great projects that are promoting an expanded definition of industrial design and that have an enormous potential to address issues of societal significance," stated ICSID president Dr. Brandon Gien. "The world’s growing economies are looking for solutions in many areas and the submissions for the World Design Impact Prize can meet these needs."

In alphabetical order, the shortlisted projects are:

  • ABC (A Behaviour Changing) Syringe — this pilot study empowers patients to have a voice in their care provision by being able to tell if the syringe being used in their care is new. Using a simple label that changes color when removed from its packaging, this innovation provides a solution to one of the priorities of the World Health Organisation (WHO) — unsafe injections, which cause 1.3 million deaths per year.
  • BioLite HomeStove — this home cookstove addresses the toxic smoke produced from the burning of biomass on an open fire by incorporating a fan into its design, which helps burn the biomass more efficiently, while reducing indoor smoke by 90% and eliminating up to 2.5 tons of GHG emissions per stove per year. The stove also has a USB port that harnesses some of the energy produced during use to provide a small charging station for cell phones or solar lights.
  • Family by Family — A support network by families, for families this unique service was designed in collaboration with the Australian Social Innovation Center to create a service that finds and trains families (children included) who have made it through tough times, matches them with families who want things to change, and coaches family pairs through a 10– to 30-week link-up.
  • Laddoo Project — This innovative method to combat malnutrition in India reimagined a traditional dessert into a high-nutrient food that could help children achieve the nutritional intake without having to change their diets. The project worked with hospitals and daycare providers to reach families and children, providing the nutritious snack and teaching them about healthy eating. After six months of eating a “Laddoo” every day, over 50% of the malnourished children moved into the WHO’s height- and weight-based nutritional ‘safe zone.’
  • Leveraged Freedom Chair — A wheelchair that can navigate rough terrain as easily as paved surfaces, the LFC is intended for individuals in countries where infrastructure such as sidewalks and roads are not present. The LFC uses the chain and sprocket drive train of a standard bicycle in conjunction with two extended push levers to allow the user to move beyond the pavement.
  • Potty Project - A participatory research and citizen-engagement project, the Potty Project addresses bringing centralized sanitation infrastructure to housing projects in India that are not serviced by the government. This solution allows for each house to connect to a central system based on their particular resource base.
  • Refugee Housing Unit - this pilot project with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) creates modular and moveable structures that can be home to internationally displaced victims for years at a time, providing a sense of home, security and allowing for personalization without being permanent structures. Cost–efficient, modular, adaptable and flat packed, these units made in conjunction with IKEA are an alternative to the tents UNHCR currently provides refugees

An extensive assessment of the projects was overseen by an international review panel that selected the seven projects based on the opportunity they create in recognizing the value of industrial design as well as social well-being while reimagining distribution systems and the role of the designer. Projects such as Family by Family, the Ladoo Project and the Potty Project are creating large impact by being systems-based and infrastructure-light while ABC Syringe, BioLite HomeStove, the Leveraged Freedom Chair and the Refugee Housing Unit are reimagining how products serving marginalized and at-risk communities can better address the challenges they are attempting to address.

Commenting on the shortlisted nominations, Dr. Mark Breitenberg, ICSID Senator and Chair of the Review Panel, said, "We are looking for design that is innovative, that is breaking new ground in the field, that leads to progress, and advances the profession of design. We are looking for the project that has the greatest impact and is thinking about design as a way to solve problems. We want the winner of the prize to plant a seed, and showcase a lot of the extraordinary work that is being done in humanitarian design around the world."

The finalists will be announced on January 24, 2014, and the award will be presented at the World Design Capital®International Design Gala in Cape Town (South Africa) in February 2014.

The International Energy Agency states that approximately 1.3 billion people — almost 20 percent of the world’s population — lack reliable access to electricity, resulting in a heavy reliance on kerosene lamps in developing countries, which are expensive and damaging to both users’ health and the environment. A stellar example of a design-centered social enterprise, Deciwatt, which won the SB Innovation Open London earlier this week, began field-testing its acclaimed GravityLight this month with families, schools, refugee camps, kiosk owners and local entrepreneurs across 28 countries that normally rely on highly polluting kerosene lamps for nighttime lighting.


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