Danish Design Award Seeks to Change the World

The INDEX: Award champions sustainable design solutions.

Danish design award eschews mere consumerism in favour of a quest to change the world.

Every two years, the most forward-thinking designers come to Copenhagen for the INDEX: Award. The over-arching goal behind the award is to redesign the planet we live in and to make it healthier and fairer; as well as tackling issues such as poverty, education and sanitation.

The nomination process for INDEX: Award 2019 is open until March 2019. It is free of charge, and anyone can nominate anything — as long as it improves life.

Last year’s INDEX: Award saw a renewed focus on broader social goals. With 1,401 entries from 85 countries all over the world, Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX: Design to Improve Life, says: “Design is part of a skillset, it is not about consumerism. Design is a strong enough tool to break rules, change our perspective on things, reassess problems and even transform economic systems.” She adds: “For design, as we too often see it, isn’t about designing another set of white tea cups, it is about creating tools that will help us re-engineer the world we live in.” The five winners of the INDEX: Award in the categories of Body; Community; Home; Play and Learning; and Work fed into this broad agenda of improving people’s lives through the social power of design. The winners of the 2017 prize were announced at ceremony in Elsinore, a coastal city north of Copenhagen.

Billionaire takes a look at the innovative design projects winning the respective categories.

Body
With Zipline, Harvard graduates Keller Rinaudo, Will Hetzler and Stanford alumnus Keenan Wyrobek, have taken health support to another level. The designers claim that Zipline is the world’s first commercial drone delivery system designed to get critical medical supplies, such as blood and vaccines, to where they’re needed — fast. The multi-partner initiative, including Silicon Valley company Zipline — Lifesaving Deliveries and the Rwandan government, has the aim of putting every single one of Rwanda’s 12 million citizens within a 15-to-35-minute delivery range of any essential medical product. Jury member Ravi Naidoo, founder of Africa’s leading design summit Design Indaba, said: “Zipline is a great systemic interplay of designers, governments and society that brings the best first-world technology to the poorest.” As of 2017, Zipline services 21 transfusion facilities in the western part of Rwanda, which can reach approximately seven million people.

Community
Ethereum has been developed by the Swiss non-profit foundation of the same name. The project addresses one of the key anxieties of our age: how can we trust the internet? To that end, Ethereum is a platform that allows users to regain ownership of their digital identities, without the interference of dreaded third parties or censorship. Its apps run on a custom-built blockchain and they act like a digital passport so a user can confirm their identity with organisations such as banks. Ethereum thus might provide a solution for private data to remain just that — private.

Home
What3Words was designed by Chris Sheldrick and is a global address system, inspired partly by the defects of traditional satnav systems, which can break down in the last couple of metres as people near their destination. To overcome this, What3Words breaks the world down into 57 trillion 3m squares and assigns these areas a three-word marker (for example, ‘heartbeats.chives.wicket’). According to the UN, four billion people in the world live without an address, which has a major impact on their ability, for example, to vote or register for services such as electricity. What3Words can help people overcome this major inequality by giving every one of the world’s inhabitants a reliable address.

Play and Learning
Manu Prakash and Saad Bhamla created a tool called Paperfuge out of a hand-powered centrifuge. Paperfuge is made from paper, string and plastic. It was inspired by a 5,000-year-old toy, a spinning button on a string known as a ‘whirligig’. Paperfuge only weighs about 2g and doesn’t require any electricity. Its purpose? According to the designers, Paperfuge works just like a traditional centrifuge and can spin biological samples at thousands of revolutions per minute. Centrifuges are essential for diagnosing the ‘big three’ highly infectious diseases: malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. They are designed to isolate and detect low levels of infection, pathogens, and parasites in blood, urine and stool samples. Traditional centrifuges can cost up to US$1,000 per machine and generally rely on electricity. Prakash and Bhamla’s Paperfuge costs just US$0.20 per unit.

Work
GreenWave, designed by Bren Smith and Emily Stengel, looks at how we can restore the oceans and sustainably feed the world. It is a zero-input ocean farming system available to all fishermen. GreenWave is designed to address overfishing, restore ocean ecosystems, mitigate climate change, and create jobs for fishermen, while providing healthy, local food for communities. How does it work? The ocean-farming system brings together seaweed, mussels and scallops that hang from floating ropes. Oysters grow in cages below the ropes, and cages of clams hang beneath them. “Kelp soaks up five times as much carbon as land-based plants, while oysters filter 50 gallons of water a day, pulling out nitrogen. Overall, GreenWave is capable of producing 30 times more biofuel than soybeans and five times more biofuel than corn — without polluting the food chain. I think GreenWave allows us to take the crisis of climate change and flip it into an opportunity to really innovate in sustainable ways,” says Bren Smith. “Anybody with 20 acres, a boat and US$30,000 can start a farm and be up and running within a year.”

designtoimprovelife.dk/award/

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