The Danish are tremendous design patrons, and each year, The INDEX Awards, sponsored by the Danish government, gives our 500,000 euros in prize money to five designers. The 2009 recipients were just announced, falling in five categories: Body, Home, Work, Play, and Community. The jury seemed particularly keen on rewarded good works and good ideas, rather than making the contest a mere beauty pageant. Here's what won:
Freeplay Fetal Heart Monitor is a rugged, crack-powered device. Hundreds of women die every year during childbirth in the undeveloped world; a fetal heart-rate monitor is an essential device, because the key metric of how well a birth is going is the baby's heart rate. If abnormalities are present, doctors can suspend the labor and get the mother to a better delivery facility:
Most in the developing world cook on open stoves--spewing hazardous soot into the air at home. So Philips design created the Chula stove, which improves fuel efficiency--meaning the user doesn't have to scavenge as much fuel--and is, more importantly, smokeless.
The Web site Kiva was meant to skirt the problem of getting micro loans to people, by cutting out the big faceless organizations that usually control the purse strings. The site joins local entrepreneurs with anyone who wants to make a loan, of as little as $25. Kiva claims the repayment rate is 98%, and their long-term goal is lend $1 billion via 1 million people. Already, they've awarded $87 million in loans, from 500,000 people:
It's been a bang-up year, design wise, for Shai Agassi's Better Place. Their electric-car charging station previous won a IDEA Gold Award. Designed by our own expert design blogger, Gadi Amit, in integrates a vast amount of hardware and software into one elegant, simple, and rugged package:
Last but not least was perhaps the most design-y offering of the lot, PIG 05049, designed by Dutch graphic designer Christien Meindertsm. The idea was to trace all of the myriad ways that a single pig creates a chain of industrial derivatives, used in everything from bullets to car parts. Meindertsm presented her voluminous research in one single, clean, gorgeous tome which replaces all the words you might find in a treatise on sustainability with evocative design:
[Images via Designboom]