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Product Design
Published: 1 Sep 2017

Humanitarian Design Solutions

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Clockwise L-R: Refugee Nation, Warka Water, Avy Search and R

As depicted in Creativity for Crisis: Humanitarian Innovation, a number of designers are turning their attention to the refugee crisis. This is echoed in the shortlist for The Design Museum’s Designs of the Year competition, with several nominated projects offering practical support to refugees and those in precarious living conditions.

  • United by Design: The 2016 Olympics was the first games to include a team made up of refugees. Not having a flag or country name to compete under, Syrian artist and refugee Yara Said created a new design that could represent these displaced people. The design is vivid orange with a single black stripe and aims to create a sense of solidarity among those sharing a similar struggle.

  • Rescue Drone: The Avy Search and Rescue Drone is designed to help refugee boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to lower the risk of this journey and ensure more people are able to reach the shore safely. The drone can fly long distances and detect the location of the vessels, dropping life jackets, food supplies, medication and communication devices to the people below.

  • Harvesting Water: Simple utilities, such as water and electricity, are often difficult to access for communities living in ad hoc accommodation or refugee camps. Arturo Vittori’s Warka Water structure aims to solve this, being able to harvest drinkable water from the atmosphere. The unusual design does not require electricity, as it draws rain, fog and dew from its surroundings through gravity, condensation and evaporation.

See Designing for Drought for more innovations that are tackling fresh water provision and scarcity. 

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