IKEA Foundation, Autodesk Foundation in collaboration with “What Design Can Do” called on the creative community to submit design ideas that help cope climate change, and I am excited as a puppy to see what’s going to be on board. Tell you what? This is the real deal. This is design. Design that is not just an expression of thoughts or feelings but design that makes life better.

“Climate Change is one of Greatest Design Challenges of our time”


You know, sitting in a comfortable, plush sofa where the air con is blowing on us and a beer is waiting in the Frigidaire, we don’t feel the pinch. We sip on that cold beer, flip a few magazines and eye the next best designer thing. Funny how most people think design is nothing but the aesthetic appeal of it all! Design is everything. It is way above how it looks and way deeper than its color.

Apart from threatening our mere existence, climate change also is a catalyst for instability: the process intensifies conflict, creates food insecurity, destroys homes, and puts people adrift. And this is not a problem of the future; it’s happening here and now, hitting the poorest people in the world first. What we need, right now, are ideas that help us cope with a new, unavoidable reality.

And while so far good and clever designing was limited to reducing carbon emissions- to try and limit global warming, the IKEA Climate Action Challenge will see a leap deeper. This competition will focus on designs that can help communities cope and adapt the increasing natural disasters with focus on food and water shortages, homelessness, ill health, mass migration and conflict.

So how will Design help?


Well, at the onset, imagine a jar that’s unbreakable and stores food for more than 6 months. Or housing material that are cheap, sustainable and withstands strong rain and wind. A housing system that can accommodate many people in very little occupied space, or, a water bottle with an inbuilt filter. I wouldn’t know! I am just a humble blogger but I have immense faith in these designers to come up with something extraordinary. Good ideas can really help communities and that’s what IKEA is looking for.

The challenge

What Design Can Do invites designers, creative thinkers and imaginative troubleshooters from all countries and disciplines to submit design ideas that will help communities vulnerable to climate change. The ideas should focus on their food, water, housing, health and energy needs. And needless mentioning, the best designs are innovative, practical, scalable, affordable and easily understood.

Participants have until 24 September to submit their ideas. There are separate tracks and awards for students, creative professionals and start-ups. The winners, selected by an international jury, share an award package worth €900,000. This includes a production budget and a tailor-made acceleration programme to help them bring their ideas, prototypes or start-ups to the market and make them ready for investment.

And in the process, we all win

If you know of students, designers, startups or entrepreneurs from India or abroad who shows tremendous possibility, tell them. This. This is a chance to finally make that difference we have been talking about, so lets make it!

Join in the conversation on social with the hashtag #ClimateActionChallenge or visit this website for more.

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