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INDIA - FUTURE OF CHANGE - Design…

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Design Impact Kate Hanisian, the co-founder of Design Impact introduces design in India’s social sector. Design Impact is a non-profit organization that partners professional designers with community organizations. These designers work on-site with innovative organizations and the communities they serve to design and implement lifeimproving solutions.

www.d-impact.org An Erikoodu charcoal briquette releases no sm oke while burning, and prov ides consistent heat for up to two hours. Im age courtesy Kate Hanisian

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. Barring a few isolated examples, there remains minimal opportunity for design and the social sector to routinely collaborate. Design Impact is one of the groups leading the effort to change that. Their mission is to identify opportunities where design skills can partner with organizations to address critical social issues, such as providing better access to water, safe environments, or livelihood. Throughout its history, professional Design has been used in business to drive innovation, solve problems, and connect new ideas to users. Unfortunately, Design efforts have too often been channeled into narrow applications that have minimal positive effects on society. While we now have hundreds of different designs for running shoes, there has been little Design investment towards products and services that serve the basic needs of impoverished communities. Too often, lack of access to money means lack of access to life-saving or life-improving designs. But today with effective partnerships and sustainable funding streams, design can play an essential role in improving services.

The ‘Em brace Infant Warm er’ serv es as a great exam ple of the power of design interv ention in

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Design Impact partners designers with social sector organizations through our fellowship program. We facilitate these partnerships by matching social impact projects with highly qualified and trained professional designers, who live and work t I di i ti f i th

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exam ple of the power of design interv ention in India’s social sector. Designed by an integrated team of designers, engineers, and social sector leaders, it costs less that 1 % of traditional baby incubators and has the potential to sav e m illions of liv es ev ery y ear. I mage courtesy Kate Hanisian

INDIA - FUTURE OF CHANGE - Design…

at Indian organizations for six-month engagements. To test this model internationally, we lived in rural T amil Nadu for the eighteen months, working closely with the Organisation of Development, Action, and Maintenance (‘ODAM’) on the Erikoodu Charcoal Briquette Project.

Erikoodu Charcoal Briquette Project Families in India often use wood or kerosene for their cooking needs—both of which emit severe, sometimes fatal fumes and cause numerous short- and long-term health problems. The Erikoodu (Tamil for ‘burning nest’) charcoal briquette offers families a better way to cook. The charcoal briquette releases no smoke while cooking, and is made from sustainably harvested and locally produced charcoal, reducing dependence on fossil fuels. When charcoal is harvested from a sustainable source, and is processed into a clean burning charcoal briquette, it results in a carbon-neutral energy source. The non-toxic and smokeless attributes of the briquette make it a better alternative than traditional charcoal, wood, or kerosene in rural areas. Working on projects like the Erikoodu briquette has provided us with the proof and insight required to grow our program to other organizations.

Elav arasu and Adam w ork together to design a locally -m ade charcoal m ixer out of recy cled m aterials. This m ixer will help prov ide briquettes that reduce indoor air pollution caused by wood sm oke. Im age courtesy Kate Hanisian

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6/2/2011

INDIA - FUTURE OF CHANGE - Design…

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Design Impact Kate Hanisian, the co-founder of Design Impact introduces design in India’s social sector. Design Impact is a non-profit organization that partners professional designers with community organizations. These designers work on-site with innovative organizations and the communities they serve to design and implement lifeimproving solutions.

www.d-impact.org An Erikoodu charcoal briquette releases no sm oke while burning, and prov ides consistent heat for up to two hours. Im age courtesy Kate Hanisian

contd >> Design Impact Fellowship Program Beginning November 1, 2011, Design Impact’s first round of Fellows will be placed with Indian social sector organizations, located in various states around India. These partner organizations all work in crucial areas of social or environmental change. In addition, these organizations demonstrate openness to innovative thinking, capacity to implement projects, and have an identified area of opportunity they would like to explore through Design. Possible design projects for our first year include: technology-driven job skills curriculum for disadvantaged youth, waste charcoal briquetting to reduce indoor air pollution, small municipal bio-gas plants to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, bamboo structure design to provide low-cost shelter, compost packaging and distribution to advocate environment-friendly farming, healthcare provisions in lowincome communities, and rural technologies to empower low-income innovators. Although each round of Fellows remains for six months, most projects require a lengthier commitment. Design Impact provides continued support by placing as many rounds of Fellows as the project requires. As we assess the measurable outcomes of our projects and garner specific feedback on our process, we will continue to tailor our approach as we spread across India and abroad.

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Seem aicham y interv iews Muthukani to get her im pressions of the charcoal briquette. Design Im pact w orked closely with ODAM to com plete user research that guided and inform ed the design process. Im age courtesy Kate Hanisian

Urged on by the growing realities of globalization, new models of development work are emerging daily. Lines are blurring between for-profit and non-profit, governments are working with businesses who are working with NGOs, and all sectors have realized that it’s time to seek innovative approaches to some of society’s toughest issues. With roots in business, manufacturing, art, marketing, and creative problem solving, Design can help bridge the gap between sectors in these new models of social change. And, better yet, designers who explore these new partnerships can encourage others to step out of traditional roles and realize that we all have a responsibility greater than ourselves. At Design Impact, we are learning every day from the ongoing Indian development initiatives that surround us, and are honored to work closely with the talented and dedicated individuals that exist in India’s social sector.

Selv am and Seem aicham y of ODAM relax with Ram sey Ford of Design Im pact after a long day of m aking briquettes. Im age courtesy Kate Hanisian

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Design is How it Works.  

Article written by Kate Hanisian for India Future of Change.

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