NEW YORK, December 1, 2008. Challenged to consider the global
water crisis, design students in Atlanta are thinking about ways that
excess hair from beauty salons could be used to soak up oil spills,
while students in China are planning an online magazine for
6–12-year-olds to promote water conservation.
Both groups hope to be among the finalists for the first annual
INDEX: | AIGA Aspen Design Challenge, this year dubbed “Designing
Water’s Future.” Each group has created an elegantly simple solution
with a powerful impact—but only selected finalists will be invited to
refine their ideas with global thought leaders in 2009. And only one
design team will be awarded $10,000 to bring its idea to life.
Water scarcity has emerged as a serious threat to people across the
world. More than 5 million die each year due to contaminated drinking
water, and the UN estimates that 5.5 billion will lack adequate access
to fresh water in the next 20 years. “It is of great importance that
designers and design students understand their role in addressing the
challenges of this world—and the freshwater crisis is definitely one of
the graver ones, given the number of people afflicted and the number of
other issues that it involves,” said Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX:.
More than 450 students at 45 universities across 6 continents are currently hard at work on creative projects to solve this crisis, and will submit final proposals by December 15.
Launched in August 2008, the Challenge tasks students with developing
design solutions that encourage responsible water use, provide access to
fresh water to those in need or communicate the importance of water
conservation. From Australia to Ecuador, students are using their
diverse and disparate backgrounds to help solve a truly global crisis.
“The idea behind the Aspen Design Challenge is that creative design
can change the way people think and behave, and that young people are an
essential source for precisely the design thinking we need,” said
Richard Grefé, executive director of AIGA. “AIGA has kept in touch with
these students throughout the semester, and all indicators show that we
can expect some wonderfully surprising results in December.”
Following the announcement of finalists in February 2009, students behind the selected proposals will have the opportunity to share their ideas with environmental specialists at the Aspen Environment Forum
in March 2009, and to improve their concepts with feedback from top
designers, scientists, journalists, and business and NGO leaders.
Selected finalists will also present their concepts at the United Nations Climate Change Conference
in Copenhagen next November, and the winning team will receive the
$10,000 INDEX: | AIGA Aspen Design Challenge Prize—sponsored by the JL
Foundation—to implement its solution.
“We have recently seen American politics shaped by young people who
could see beyond divisive fear tactics and move toward hope,” said Brian
Collins, chairman of COLLINS:, the New York-based design firm and
partner in “Designing Water’s Future.” “Now imagine these same kinds of
creative minds working on the water crisis from all corners of the
globe. The great response to ‘Designing Water’s Future’ indicates to us
that the next generation is ready to take action.”
The Aspen Design Challenge is a joint project developed by AIGA and
INDEX: with the purpose of engaging the millennial generation in solving
an emerging set of global issues. The idea for “Designing Water’s
Future” grew out of discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland, led by Brian Collins and journalist J. Carl Ganter,
co-founder of Circle of Blue, the international network of leading
journalists, scientists and communications designers that connects
humanity to the global freshwater crisis.
INDEX: and AIGA have recruited experts in design, environmental
policy, economics, and development to serve as the Challenge jury. The
jury members will convene in February 2009 to review all project
submissions, select finalists for participation in the Aspen Environment
Forum and INDEX: Summer Camp, and ultimately, award $10,000 to the
winning team. The jury is comprised of experts from the United States,
Canada, Denmark and Singapore:
For more information, visit www.aspendesignchallenge.org or sign up for updates from "Designing Water’s Future” on Facebook.
Circle of Blue is the international network of leading
journalists, scientists and communications designers that reports and
presents the information necessary to respond to the global freshwater
crisis. Circle of Blue is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and
is a nonprofit affiliate of the internationally recognized water,
climate and policy think tank, the Pacific Institute. Circle of Blue
also publishes WaterNews, the daily go-to source for global water news
and data. For more information about Circle of Blue, visit www.circleofblue.org and www.circleofblue.org/waternews.
COLLINS: is a design and innovation firm based in New York
City. The firm creates communications, environments and interactions
that transform how organizations connect with people. Their team of
strategists, designers and technologists work with some of the leading
organizations in the world.
Founded in 2002, INDEX: is a global nonprofit network
organization based in Copenhagen which draws attention to design that
substantially improves people’s lives. INDEX:, a subsidiary company of
the Danish Design Centre, works through a global network to ensure
access to the best knowledge on design and the cutting edge of
contemporary thinking. The network consists of designers, businesses,
organizations and design institutions that collaborate in disseminating
and applying the latest knowledge in the field of “Design to Improve
Life.” Every other year, INDEX: awards the world’s largest design prize,
INDEX: AWARD. www.indexaward.dk
AIGA, the professional association for design, is the premier place
for design—to discover it, discuss it, understand it, appreciate it, be
inspired by it.
AIGA’s mission is to advance designing as a professional craft,
strategic tool and vital cultural force. AIGA stimulates thinking about
design through journals, conferences, competitions and exhibitions;
demonstrates the value of design to business, the public and government
officials; and empowers the success of designers at each stage of their
careers by providing invaluable educational and social resources.
Founded in 1914, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional
membership organization for design. AIGA now represents more than 22,000
design professionals, educators and students through national
activities and local programs developed by 62 chapters and 240 student
groups. AIGA is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational institution.
For further information, please contact:Kristen Titus/Martha McGill
Resnicow Schroeder Associates
212 671 5173/5169
AIGA | the professional association for design
Tel 212 807 1990 Fax 212 807 1799amy_chapman [at] aiga [dot] org
AIGA’s chapters allow our members to form powerful social and
professional bonds through conferences, competitions, lectures and
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