INDEX: Design to Improve Life

THIS IS (DESIGN THINKING IN) AFRICA

“Hey, what’s up?” The lights go out, the projector shuts down, and the air conditioning stops. The power has gone off. But, this is Africa (TIA) and everyone except us, read: Westerners, accept it with composure. INDEX is in Tanzania, more specifically, Dar es Salaam, in collaboration with the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) to hold …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGN & THE MILITARY: A LOVE STORY

We usually don’t ask ourselves many questions about the objects surrounding our lives. Aside from the simple function and aesthetics, we don’t think about the object’s history or why products and services, which we use every day, have been designed in the way that we know them. When you think about design, you wouldn’t initially …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGN TO IMPROVE DEATH

We all recognise and have even discussed at length, the importance of designing for death and absence. But, how are we tangibly tackling the issues associated with mortality and loss? A new generation of designers are responding to the Death Positive Movement, which goes way beyond solving the technical problems in healthcare to creating meaning …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CAN WE LIVE FOREVER?

A little while ago, Vittoria talked about designing for absence and just last week, Lesley showed that design can play a tangible role in bridging religions and creating more tolerant societies.  With a rapidly ageing society, death and religion are topics more in focus than ever before and are, arguably, the last two major design challenges …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGNING TOLERANT SOCIETIES

A few years ago, there was a design proposal nominated for INDEX: Award that particularly caught my eye. The Ceremony Room, designed by Svendborg Architects. A beautiful communal space designed for people of all religions or no religion to celebrate and commiserate meaningful life events. From birth ceremonies to funerals and everything in-between. When the …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

A SEASONAL BITE

Many times when I tell non-Danes that I’m living in Copenhagen, the reaction is always: “WOW!”. And I agree — Copenhagen is a great city in many aspects. While the is city famous for its beautiful landscapes, architecture and lifestyle, after three years of living here, my biggest personal interest has narrowed to food. As …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CHANGING MINDSETS IN CHILE

Last month, we held the second part of a Design to Improve Life certification programme for 20 professors from the Universidad del Desarollo (UDD), Santiago de Chile. The collaboration began back in March, where INDEX spent a week in Santiago to train the professors to use the Compass, our main design and innovation tool. This …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

THE SMELL OF A 3D PRINTED MEAL

Through the years we’ve seen quite a few 3D printers entering the pipeline for INDEX: Award. And in the last couple of years, 3D printers printing food and even complete meals. As the possibilities are many and the technology now here to support it, it got me thinking quite a bit about the concept of …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CREATING A ‘HJÆLPERVEN’ SOCIETY

There are rarely enough words I can get out of my son after his (and my) long day of kindergarten and work respectively. My question: “what did you do today?” is usually answered with the occasional tired little grunt and response of “nothing”. So, without being too pushy, I usually leave it and let him …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

UNDERSTANDING BEE CHALLENGES

Growing up I used to be relatively fine with bees. But, I still recall hearing fellow classmates at camp yelling with freight in their voices that they had just been stung by a bee. A tiny animal that most kids, and adults for that matter, treated and still treat with a good portion of fear. …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

WALK THE TALK

This summer hit Europe like never before. Record-breaking high temperatures, droughts, heatwaves and panic – oh the panic! Suddenly, everyone began talking, again, about how our governments aren’t doing enough to fight climate change. We got thousands of experts retelling us about how two or more degrees in temperature is condemning society and all of …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGN & DEATH – HOW CAN WE DESIGN FOR ABSENCE?

We live in a world where everything is hyper-designed: the urban planning of our cities, the interior of our houses, how we interact with our smartphones and, of course, the intangible and invisible designs that allow us access to software and services. We’re surrounded by spaces designed for a function, products designed with a shape …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

MORE WAKANDA, PLEASE

Wakanda – a hidden country in East Africa, beautiful, never colonised and basically unconquerable thanks to the magical metal Vibranium that makes the country a tech wonderland. Watching Ryan Coogler’s cultural phenomenon that is Black Panther, the design of Wakanda’s golden city is one of its many achievements. How would you design a country, more …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

REMEMBER THE BOOK?

When we think about design that improves life for people, usually it’s not books that pop into our heads. None the less, books are still one of the most powerful mediums we have when it comes to touching people directly. Even though they have been doomed many times, most famously by Robert Coover in The …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

WHY WOULDN’T YOU EMBRACE LAB-GROWN MEAT?

Some off-putting images likely spring to mind when you think of lab-grown meat. Probably not dissimilar to many scenes in sci-fi films: rows of failed experiments suspended in glass jars; creatures strapped to cadaver tables neither living or dead; or —from a less dramatic view— Petri dishes of pink-hued, uniformly-sized cubes – about as far …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

HOW TO PLAN AND CONDUCT A MEETING USING THE COMPASS

Do you want more efficient and meaningful working meetings? Here’s a way of planning and conducting meetings using the innovation model the Design to Improve Life Compass. The Compass is a four-phase innovation model with a user-centred and problem-solving approach. It’s a brilliant tool for planning and conducting meetings – be it a staff appraisal …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

LIFE ON MARS?

In 2028, the asteroid 1997XF11 will come really close to Earth, but will miss the planet. If something changed and it did hit the ground, this 1.5-kilometre wide, 48280 km/h travelling asteroid, would produce an amount of energy 10 million times greater than the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima. Life, as we know it, would …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGN X SCIENCE

It’s no secret that scientists and experts often hit the wall when attempting to create behavioural change among policymakers and the general population based on their findings. Reasons are many, often conflicting and complex. People lack trust, they disregard science in favour of religious or cultural beliefs, or they do care but refrain from acting. …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGNING OBJECTS LIKE WRITING PUNK SONGS

Inspiration can come from everywhere and at any time. We can be inspired by anything: by finding solutions to deep societal challenges, the bright colour of a leaf or in the work of the curious and unconventional. Going through a design education in Italy can be very confronting. As an Italian designer, I have quite heavy …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

REMAIN CALM

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.” What reads like the opening lines of a sci-fi movie, is actually the introduction to the …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

In 2013, Copenhagen Municipality won an INDEX: Award in the Community category for the municipality’s ambitious take on handling flooding in the city and climate change in general – the Copenhagen Climate Adaption Plan. What the INDEX: Award international jury emphasized as being particularly innovative and game-changing in the Municipality’s roadmap was 1) that the …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CRITICAL DESIGN

Design, as we perceive it, circles around solving problems. Critical design, on the other hand, is characterized as problem finding. Here the design is the medium that asks questions about how the world could be to challenge assumptions and conceptions about the role that objects play in everyday life. Critical Design emerged from the work …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Let’s talk about Henry. Henry was a nice guy; hipster beard, tall shirt collar and bowtie. Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1849 that “Civil Disobedience” is an argument for disobedience to an unfair state. Much can be said about the state of Denmark, but it’s certainly not unfair. Our state always tries the best it …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

10 THINGS WE LEARNED: WEF 2018

Last week we attended the World Economic Forum along with state leaders, business executives, scientists and fieldworkers from around the world. These are the top learnings we took home as we involved ourselves in talks, meetings and debates in Davos. Carbon pricing is among the top priorities in the fight against the negative consequences of …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE OF REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS

The challenge of refugees and migrants is a complex problem that can be viewed from many different perspectives. Some politicians and academics don’t view refugees as a problem, but as a resource for the West. But, surely it’s a problem that millions of people are forced to flee persecution or hopeless conditions in their homelands? And surely …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

Iterating on a Design to Improve Life Investment Fund

Being witness to great innovations stemming from all corners of the globe for over fourteen years, we’d seen potential to move the world positively through sustainable design – solutions designed and conceived by people for people, communities and the planet. Our narrative until now was a fight to broaden the definition of ‘design’ so that …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

WE MUST OVERCOME POST-FACTUAL SOCIETY

Six months ago, post-factual society was a mildly interesting side development. Not something that seriously threatened the world’s progress towards increased democracy, growth and sustainability. But after Brexit, Donald Trump and the recent developments in Poland, Russia, Turkey and Hungary – everything has been turned upside down. The post-factual trend has, in record time, grown so powerful …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

15 YEARS OF DESIGN TO IMPROVE LIFE… WHAT NOW?

Although it may not always feel like it, the world HAS vastly improved since the beginning of the millennium. Thanks to a shared global effort: less people live in poverty, more children are in school, gender equality is improving, child and maternal mortality is declining, cures for many threatening diseases have been found, environmental issues are …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

WE MUST NURTURE THE TALENT OF TOMORROW

At the World Economic Forums’ Summit in Davos in 2007, Queen Rania talked about the importance of profoundly changing the way we educate our next generations. Not only did she speak on the subject of education in the great Plenary Hall, she made it a central topic in two sessions in the very hall where …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

THE VALUE OF INSPIRATION

On one run-of-the-mill day in 1940, Helen Barnett Diserens observed the way ink flowed from a ballpoint pen and wondered whether the same would work with other, similar liquids. It did. Helen then invented the roll on deodorant that has since become one of the world’s best-selling hygiene products. Stories like Helen’s are the reason why …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

What if Planet Earth took some time off to fix itself?

Day in and day out, we are bombarded with statements about what a sorry state our planet is in. Global warming, terrorist attacks, refugees, animal extinction, natural disasters, hunger, disease, you name it. What we’re not told is that all these problems could be addressed – and even fixed – relatively easily. Perhaps by something as simple as taking some time off. It seems as …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF DESIGN FOR THE GREATER GOOD

When the Danish Design Centre awarded the 16 prizes for the Danish Design Award last month, half of the winners were previously nominated for INDEX: Award. And, more importantly, all the winning designs focus on improving peoples lives – not a new, fancy pepper grinder in sight! One of our goals at INDEX: Design to …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

THE BROWN STUFF UNDER OUR FEET IS ALIVE, AND COGNITIVE GREEN THINGS GROW IN IT

The American educator Professor Emeritus Robert Sylwester once said, “plants don’t have a brain because they are not going anywhere.” But, he might be very wrong! In my professional life, I’m engaged in looking for sustainable solutions to large-scale global challenges like water shortage, climate change, ocean pollution, hunger and universal healthcare. And I’m happy to tell you …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

INFORMATION IS POWER

Established politicians worldwide are concerned about their populations. Or, they’re simply worried about their own future if the population happens to turn on them. Politics has always been an unstable game. But according to a recent Danish study, politicians have never had lower confidence than today – and people in many nations are, in fact, turning away from …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

IT’S TIME TO INVEST WITH OUR MINDS AND HEARTS

Why is now the time to wholeheartedly invest in solutions that create positive impact? INDEX: Design to Improve Life® CEO, Kigge Hvid, explains why life-improving design is now emerging as one of the most attractive business opportunities. As suggested by the name, Danish Ventures – Investing in Design to Improve Life, the objective of the fund is …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

VIRTUAL REALITY – IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER

When I ask Mariano Alesandro (our Head of Future Thinking and Tech at INDEX: Design to Improve Life®) what virtual reality (VR) is going to really mean, he says: “Think back to when you first used the Internet. You opened your computer, clicked Explorer and then you opened your browser. What you saw was information simply …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DO YOU WANT TO BE A YOUNG CHANGE-MAKER?

In order to determine what it takes to become a change-maker we need to answer three key questions. Why do we need changes? What does it take? And how do we get there? A wise man once said that one of the most difficult things to predict is the future. But what we do know about it …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

PROGRESS, NOT LIMITATION, WILL SAVE THE WORLD

Design and innovation is the best tool we have to save our world, and in order to undo the damage of the past, we need to push forward. This means humanity must think about sustainability on the offensive, rather than only trying to solve the world’s problems of today. The world is struggling with many global challenges, …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

WHY EDUCATION SHOULD FOCUS ON MOTIVATION

My daughter was incredibly eager and excited when she started school at age six. To her, homework was a very important sign of being ‘big’. She started out with a lot of energy, doing her very best to please the teacher – as girls often do. But within a few months, she got bored, and before she reached …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DREAMS FROM THE FUTURE

A short essay on a possible future scenario, a brief dream from the future.-

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

DESIGN ICONS: STEP UP TO THE SHARING ECONOMY OR PERISH

Can the iconic Danish design companies survive the sharing economy? Timeless design, high quality and long life are the key offerings from the world’s best design companies. In my home country, Denmark, this applies to companies like Louis Poulsen, who produce some of the best lighting in the world, Fritz Hansen, who make some of the …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

SIZE MATTERS – DOWNSIZE!

Why the companies of the future will be small and agile, and what we can learn from designers? You know it, but it happens quite rarely. Somehow a given is changed and an entirely new scale is introduced. In Denmark, for instance, the metric system was introduces in 1907. An equally large change is happening in …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

Is organic food actually better for you?

I recently came across an article on FastCompany.com explaining how a Swedish brand agency made a family of five switch from “normal” food to organic food only to see what would happen with their bodies. To see if the (alleged) positive effects were measurable. The agency used a simple show-dont-tell approach and thus had the family …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

INEQUALITY – THE NEW BLACK FOR DESIGNERS?

Announcing her run for presidency Hillary said it herself: ‘The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top’. And referring to the present situation in the Mediterranean, where thousands flee from the poorest to the richest parts of the world, the use of the word ‘deck’ receives an entirely different meaning. There …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

BILL GATES NEEDS HELP!

That’s a new one – normally Bill Gates seems quite capable in quite many fields. However, the fact is that Bill Gates needs help. At a recent TED Talk he said, that our general inability to respond properly to epidemics – which was clearly illustrated by the Ebola out-break – should prompt us to get …

INDEX: Design to Improve Life

POLLINATION: THE ISSUES AND THE IDEAS

Designing to improve life isn’t always about aiding humanity but about improving all things in our ecosystem that sustain us. Pollination is not usually an issue that springs to mind when we think of global challenges, but a decline in our pollinators – namely bees – could also mean a serious decline in the livelihood …