What Design Can Do challenges creatives to build a circular society

“Forest fires, floods, extreme heat and water shortages, you only have to read the headlines from last summer to see that the climate crisis is hitting people around the world hard. This global crisis shows us that we have to live differently to turn the tide. trip, and it requires a different design.”

That is the idea and driving force behind the fourth challenge of What Design Can Do (WDCD) in collaboration with the Ikea Foundation: Make it Circular Challenge. From October 11, 2022 to January 11, 2023, WDCD invites all innovators – from designers to entrepreneurs – to submit their most daring climate solutions with a circular design.

Made it circular
There is an opportunity to shape a radically different future: a future designed to be restorative and regenerative. A circular society goes one step further than the circular economy. In addition to the economic aspects, it also takes into account the social, societal and ethical aspects of our life on earth. By turning ideas into action, WDCD wants to ensure that the concept of a circular society is more than a buzzword for greenwashing campaigns.

Therefore, the Make it Circular Challenge asks designers to design new materials or technologies. The winning ideas are realized through an effect-driven development program. The end goal? To create products, services and systems that show that a circular future is not only conceivable, but also achievable.

The Make it Circular Challenge is the successor to the successful No Waste Challenge from 2021. 1409 projects from 126 different countries were submitted, from which 16 winning projects were selected. Including the Dutch Living Coffin, the world’s first fully biodegradable coffin made from mycelium. Or ‘Claybens’, an ambitious plan by Emy Bensdorp to heat the chemical group PFAS, which can be found all around us, from contaminated clay soil to bricks, destroying the chemicals into a clean brick.

The power of creativity
Our economy is based on a linear system where value is created by producing and selling as much as possible. It works on the assumption that infinite growth is possible. With the effects of the climate crisis becoming more and more tangible today, we see that our planet is not fit for endless growth. When we think about change, many people still see obstacles that they would rather not or dare not face. One of the main challenges is to convince everyone that we can create a new world that makes our lives not less, but more fulfilling.

“A lot of people get lost in the face of so much outrage, climate fatigue and disinterest, but creatives don’t,” said Richard van der Laken, co-founder and creative director of WDCD. “Imagination is the craft of the creative community: seeing what isn’t there yet, taking on a challenge and moving forward with optimism.”

Take part?
Participants can submit projects within the following themes: what we eat, what we wear, what we buy, how we pack and how we build. In early 2023, a jury of leading experts in design, social impact and climate action will select a minimum of 10 winners. Three of the winning consumer product initiatives are funded by WDCD’s new partner Secrid. Winning ideas become reality with €10,000 in funding and a global development program created in partnership with Impact Hub Amsterdam, including online training, mentoring sessions and a bootcamp. This program supports the winning teams in developing their projects.

“We look forward to seeing how designers and creative entrepreneurs use circular principles to deliver tangible solutions that tackle climate change, waste and pollution,” said Liz McKeon, Programs Director – Planet at the IKEA Foundation. “We believe that design can contribute to a better future and that it can motivate people to feel at home in a circular world.”

From 11 October 2022 to 11 January 2023, participants can submit their project proposals online for free via this website.

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