What Design Can Do – “Less pretty products, more smart services”

Shortlist_Image-968x434An app that explains the rights and duties of refugees in each country, direct democracy in the asylum seekers centre, a cosy bed for traumatized refugee children, and repopulation by refugees of eroded and declining regions in southern Europe. These are just some of the numerous innovative ideas selected for the shortlist of the What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge 2016.

The Refugee Challenge is a collaboration between What Design Can Do, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and IKEA Foundation. Over the past month designers, artists and creatives from 70 countries submitted 631 ideas aimed at improving the lives of refugees. Challenge leader Dagan Cohen referred to the hundreds of entries as ‘few pretty products, plenty of smart services. The bulk of entries clearly focuses more on ethical and emphatic design and less on aesthetics, demonstrating that service design as a discipline is clearly on the rise’.

Here is the shortlist of 25 concepts, selected by a committee of designers and humanitarian experts, which will compete in the final round of the challenge later this month. Congratulations and good luck to all!


Date: June 30 & July 1 2016

Place: Muziekgebouw Aan ‘t Ij, Piet Heinkade 1, Amsterdam