What Design Can Do: What can design do for refugees?

The What Design Can Do platform is the result of a question: what can design do for society, nature and economy? The idea of a Dutch design group who initiated this project in 2011 is that there is not an immediate answer, but it has to spring from discussion, exchange, interdisciplinarity.
The key word of the dialogue between creatives and companies is responsibility: designers are asked to open their eyes and look at the fundamental issues of our times.

With this concept in mind, What Design Can Do 2016 launched an international competition – in collaboration with UNHCR – UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Ikea Foundation – addressed to architects, designers, scientists and artists, who are asked to contribute through their work to find a solution for welcoming, integrating and fostering individual growth of the refugees, with special focus to those present in urban areas.

After evaluating more than 360 proposals, the 30th of June in Amsterdam an international jury has selected five winners who received € 10,000 and expert support to develop their projects.

Here are the winning projects:

: Narges Mofarahian
Country: Italy

A prefabricated structure, built with biodegradable material locally produced. This construction is easy to build, and refugees can live, cultivate the land, providing in full autonomy to their livelihood.

By: Jennifer Kinnunen, Marie Legleye, Camille Marshall, Elias Sougrati
Country: Canada, France, Morocco

In this project tradition, integration and dedication to work are represented through a traveling kitchen where refugees prepare food from their land of origin, and then sell it.

By: Marie-Louise Diekema, Tim Olland
Country: The Netherlands

Refugees are often pictured in uncomfortable and difficult situations, this digital platform aims at changing the common view that we have of these people, presenting photographs that show fragments of refugees’ everyday life, portrayed in moments of leisure, integration, familiar conviviality. On the platform you can buy photographs and proceeds are donated to the cause.

By: Makers Unite
Country: Netherlands

The Makers Unite is a platform where the refugees, with the help of designers and creatives, design and build products from life jackets that are used on boats with which they reach the coast. The proceeds of the sale are donated to the cause.

By: The Green Card Team
Countries: Italy, Sweden

The Welcome Card is a tool that using an identification technology based on radio waves allow refugees who are moving to the European Community to receive official information from immigration agencies, or view the status of their application for asylum.