5 Inspiring Social Design Projects
Social designs that innovate, intrigue and inspire.
31st August 2017 - Design for Need , Social Design, Projects
By Finn Brownbill
The field of social design and its products which spring to life from it, produce a wonderful array of fascination, empowerment and facilitation. To create a piece of equipment or even an idea, with the pure purpose of improving the well-being and livelihood of people in need, is some admirable feat to say the least. Creative designs are being drawn up every second of every day, many are quickly brushed aside, some forgotten and most end up in the bin. But some make it through the tough trials of applicability, realism and functionality. It is these impressive inventions, ticking all the boxes, of which I would like to bring to your attention. This article is compiled of social design projects which have blown us away, inspired us and need to be shared with you.
SaddleAid by Peter Muckle
In 2012 Peter Muckle, collaborated with Healthprom to design an emergency saddle to carry pregnant women in labour across the mountainous region of northern Afghanistan. It was later converted into an official non-profit organisation in 2014. Since the original design idea, it has been developed for a range of activities to challenge other problem areas, such as offering people with mobility issues to experience of form of therapy and transportation through safe horse, pony or donkey riding.
Upon partnering with the Simien Mountains Mobile Medical Service, recent trials have proven to be successful for SaddleAid. The innovative design has ensured a number of women being transported for vital checkups and ultimately giving birth at the health centre.
An admirable trait of the SaddleAid is their aim to train local people to build the saddles, using cheap local materials. Not only are they offering support to mothers at risk, they are ensuring implementation of their design is in the capable hands of those they want to help. This proves they truly care about the sustainable future of the area; a really nice touch.
Hippo Roller by Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker
A legendary veteran in social design for international development, the Hippo Roller has been making a real difference and inspiring designers since it’s inception in 1994. The social impact of this design has spanned over 20 countries and has distributed over 50,000 rollers reaching almost half a million people.
The Hippo Roller directly and immediately addresses the needs of rural communities in Africa with their lack of access to water. By providing 5 times more water to homes and gardens, thus taking less time gathering water, this gives individuals in these communities more time for other social, cultural and economic tasks which need deserve time.
The social enterprise itself has also blossomed into a sustainable business, partnering with other NGOs and promoting social investment, thereby taking a holistic approach to the communities in need of help.
Safari Seat by Janna Deeble
Safari Seat is an all-terrain wheelchair for people with mobility issues. Originating with a highly successful kickstarter campaign, Safari Seat uses the example of Letu, a member of the Samburu tribe in Kenya held back by his disability.
“Safari Seat gives people independence, unlocking access to education, employment and a life beyond the confines of their own home.”
Safari Seat is a innovative design which facilitates a holistic social impact for the communities which wish to build these wheelchairs. Safari Seat prides itself on being open-source, which means anyone can build it, the blueprints are free to use, which allows for local sustainable employment. It can be completely manufactured in basic local workshops, as it’s low cost and easy to maintain. This is not simply a product, it’s a revolutionary experience for those sitting in the chair and for those building them.
Ubuntu by Ilteris Ilbasan
Through Ilteris’ degree project in Advanced Product Design, Ubuntu was born. Following the Ebola Outbreak and its subsequent failure to accommodate all of the sick to hospital beds, Ilteris was inspired to solve this challenging problem. The solution was an affordable, easy to assemble containment bed which could be built on-site using locally sourced resources (such as bamboo) and disposable Tyvek sheets with instructions printed on them. This means no time wasted transporting the materials from miles away. Time is precious when the stakes are as high as they are during a life threatening epidemic outbreak. The product also empowers the local community by boosting collaborative measures in bamboo farming and assembly operations, whilst also raising awareness. Using Ilteris’ words: “Maybe we should stop thinking about ‘what’s next?’ and focus on ‘what should already have been there?’”.
Pure Water by Matt McClumpha
The aim of the project was to create an improved water purification system for Bambui, Cameroon. Bambui’s pre-existing system used chemical methods that are non-renewable, costly, potentially dangerous and require high training levels.
Design for Need’s water system revolved around a water disinfectant, using the sun to pasteurise the water instead.The materials needed to construct the ‘Pure Water’ water system are very basic and can easily be locally sourced. For example, in Bambui the system requires materials including: eucalyptus planks, steel sheets and wire nails, all of which can be obtained within the community. Therefore, there will be a heavy reduction in carbon footprint on transport of chemicals and building supplies being brought to the community from elsewhere in the world. This also supports local commerce, strengthening their local economy.
In Bambui, one solar disinfector can clean 3.14 litres of water an hour, meaning that it can provide 25 people with clean drinking water per day. This is a fixed amount to the pre existing prototype of ‘Pure Water’, however, the flexibility of ‘Pure Water’s’ scale suggests, more water can be disinfected and more people can drink clean water. In Bambui alone, 350 people caught water-related diseases last year, constructing a solar disinfector would prevent these diseases.
A co-founder of a sustainable design company without any design experience. Sounds ideal right? Hey ho, that’s not why I’m here. I’m the chief editor of the blog and I do plenty more (non-design related) jobs too.