July 29, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Media News
New York, NY (July 29, 2007) - Imagine a world where your family is safe from disaster, where your children create their own masterpieces and where your neighbors prevent, rather than induce global warming. DESIGN 21: Social Design Network challenged designers from across the world to do just that; imagine how design can have a social conscience and how it can create positive change in the world. This week, the top three winners of the first-ever DESIGN 21 Social Design Competitions were announced, showcasing the most innovative ideas and breakthrough designs from a pool of more than 800 applicants representing 59 countries.

The three competitions, Heated Issue, Child’s Play and ShelterMe address pressing social issues in our world today including global warming, children’s education and natural disaster response. The competitions were open to all members of the Design 21 network, a global network of designers and socially conscious individuals. For a two-week period, members of the community voted for their favorite designs, and the winners were chosen from the top-voted applicants by a panel of expert judges and jury members. The favorite designs were then awarded with a first, second or third place award, in addition to the “Most Popular Award” and the “DESIGN 21 Award of Excellence.”

“Innovative design can ultimately change the world for the better,” says Haruko Smith, director of Felissimo New York. “Each design within these competitions reflects the range of thinking that is required to make strives toward social change, which is the ultimate mission of DESIGN 21. This is only the beginning of our journey toward change. Now, DESIGN 21 will look at how the implementation of these designs can help fight global warming, excite young minds and prepare more effectively for natural disasters in the future.”

“DESIGN 21 and the design competitions are fascinating because they reach a global audience and have found a beautiful way to build community,” said Jennifer Leonard, member of IDEO, jury member for Heated Issue and DESIGN 21’s resident blogger. “The problems we are facing today are shared issues, so it is critical to invite people from all over the world to share their ideas and solutions. DESIGN 21 makes this a possibility through the design competitions. By allowing people with a wide variety of experiences and expertise to work together, we can open our minds to even greater ideas of how to solve some of the world’s greatest issues.”

A look at the winning design ideas:

Heated Issue challenged participants to create an educational campaign to raise public awareness of the problem of global warming to provoke people to think about the issue and how their individual choices contribute to the problem. The winning applicant, Hawani Lee (US), correlated the effect of individual actions to the problem of global warming by re-writing three of Aesop’s fables, The Ant and the Cricket, the Tortoise and the Hare and the North Wind and the Sun.

Child’s Play asked participants to design an object that cultivates imagination and creativity by prompting a child to invent his or her own way of playing and interacting. The winning design, Yo’Play by Barro de Gast (ITALY) is a simple yogurt packaging that doubles as a modular construction toy. The pots, which come in packs of 2, 4 and 6 fit together in different ways to create hollow, light weight 3D shapes and figures. By creating their own figures with the pots, children are able to test their own logical skills as well as stimulate recycling and reusable products.

ShelterMe was inspired by recent natural disasters and challenged participants to design a temporary, lightweight, strong and easily deployed emergency shelter. The winning design by Patrick Wharram (US) is a foldable framework of polyester and aluminum, condensed into one unit making it easy to store. The unit is made of recycled material and can accommodate 6-8 people.
For complete information on all design submissions and winning designs, please visit

About DESIGN 21: Social Design Network
DESIGN 21: Social Design Network is a joint venture of Felissimo and UNESCO. Functioning as an online social community that partners designers with socially conscious individuals, DESIGN 21 hopes to promote better design for the greater good. DESIGN 21 believes that designers and artists see the world in a different way, and found in their personal expressions are exciting and innovative ways to support positive social environments. To date, the network includes more than 8000 members from around the world and nearly 100 members in its Non-profit Network.


Editor’s Note: Hi-res images, interviews with designers available.