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Calling for Power of Design in Action

Competition Brief

Competition theme

Design-focused Idea for Disaster Relief, Recovery and Rebuilding

Competition Brief In the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, various fundraising efforts are underway across the world to provide immediate aid to 240,000 people who have been displaced.

We believe that the overall aid effort needs to be three-tiered, and would like to address all three. Under "Competitions" there are 2 other competitions that were just launched for fund-raising product designs which aim to provide mid-term support.

This is the 3rd tier. We are calling for ideas that would contribute to long-term relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts from social designers around the world. We appeal to you to think about how you can put the true power of design into action.

Here’s a great story from Japan. The City of Kobe experienced a big earthquake in 1995, which devastated the city and resulted in the loss of 6,000 of its citizens. The city has since made a complete recovery, and based on what was learned from their experiences, they have launched a social design project called “issue plus design” commemorating their recognition as a UNESCO City of Design, which was bestowed upon them in 2008, as part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

One of the great outcomes of the project is “Volunteer Bibs.” (Visual attached [pdf]). The issue was how to deploy individual volunteers in the most effective manner that did not hinder police, fire and military activities. Solution: “Volunteer Bibs” that identify volunteers, with clear indications of specific areas of support that each person is offering.

4 colors indicate a different area of support;
Red: Medical support (doctor, nurse, counselor, etc)
Blue: Language support (English, Chinese, Korean, sign language, braille, etc.)
Green: Home support (cleaning, repair, childcare, etc)
Orange: Professional support (carpentry, haircut, accounting, computer, etc)

This project address a specific stage in the relief effort, that of helping survivors with basic necessities and keeping them safe.

This is one example of the power of design in action.

In this competition, we ask you to look long term, which includes recovery, rebuilding, and prevention, and offer a design solution to a known or imagined problem or issue.

Competition Description

This competition asks you to propose an idea that utilizes the power of design that would lead to a concrete action.

Please present your idea in up to 6 JPEG images with an optional video, with up to 400-word description of your design.

Entries that direct users away from the DESIGN21 website will be disqualified. See "How to Enter" Rules for full details on file type, size and number constraints and recommendations.

Important Dates

Entry Opens: March 30, 2011 at 06:00PM UTC

Application Closes: May 10, 2011 at 05:59PM UTC

Public Voting: May 19, 2011 to May 25, 2011 at 05:59PM UTC

Results Announcement: June 6, 2011 at 06:00PM UTC

Dates may be subject to change, so check for updates.

Technical Requirements

  1. Visuals must be jpeg only, resolution 72 dpi, with maximum picture dimensions of 550 x 550 pixels and a file size no greater than 1 MB (uncompressed). You can upload up to six images.

  2. Your entry must include a project description in English with a maximum of 400 words. Jurors will be reviewing multiple entries so remember to keep your description as concise and readable as possible.

  3. Video must be in the mpeg4 format (.mpg or .mov) and playable in Adobe's Quicktime player. Video dimensions should be no larger than 480 x 320 pixels with a file size no greater than 10MB. Please be patient while video files upload.

Who Can Enter

Open to anyone over 18 years old as of the date of entry who is a registered member of D21. You must read and agree to the competition rules.

Publication & Copyright

All entries will appear on the website for voting, judging and promotional purposes. DESIGN 21: Social Design Network™ assumes all entries are original and are the works and/or property of the entrant with all rights granted therein. DESIGN 21 is not liable for any copyright infringement on the part of the entrant.

In case of implementation that requires physical production of the design, the Winner will be expected to enter into a separate agreement with Felissimo regarding transfer of copyright and production rights.

Other rules and information are contained in the “Rules” section.

Judging Criteria

Judging criteria specific to this competition are:

  • Overall effectiveness: How well the problem is solved by the design
  • Creativity: How original and new the idea/design is
  • Practicality: How easily the design can be executed in real life


US$3000 will be awarded to the Winner. In lieu of cash award, the winner may choose to donate it to Emergency Relief Fund.

The winning design will be introduced by Felissimo, crediting the designer. It will be presented, shared and discussed with disaster-relief organizations for possible, actual implementation.

Judges may elect to name Runner-up and award US$500 as Jury's Pick prize.

The Most Popular from public voting will receive recognition on the website, with no monetary prize.


To be comprised of representatives of DESIGN21 Advisory Board and Felissimo. We may seek expert advice from Disaster Protection Unit, City of Kobe.

About Competitions

The DESIGN 21 series challenges designers of all disciplines to find solutions to social and global issues. It’s guided by UNESCO’s premise that education, science, technology, culture and communication are tools to spread knowledge and information, build awareness and foster dialogue.

More About Competitions