DESIGN 21: Social Design Network’s mission is to inspire social consciousness through design. The site, a collaborative project undertaken by the global design and merchandise company Felissimo and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), connects people who want to explore ways that design can positively impact our communities.
The Allumonde Ring, designed by Richard Hutten, is a DESIGN 21 social design initiative that we can get behind. Rings range in price from $25 for the children’s acrylic version to $2,500 for the 18k gold version. Out of the proceeds, 19% benefits the non-profit of your choice, and 2% helps to fund UNESCO DREAM Centers, which provide children in post-conflict regions of the world with the opportunity to express themselves through art, reading, dance and music.
We had a chance to speak with Haruko Smith, director of DESIGN 21 about the initiative, the site and social design in general.
On DESIGN 21: Social Design Network:
In 2003 we realized we needed to change the format of our competitions. The timing and process of real world competitions was becoming outdated and sluggish. As a result, we brought everything online, and it made the entire process based more in real-time and more relevant. We were able to expand on the idea that social design is more than just designing a beautiful object, it is about social connections, and world issues.
Throughout the years, the site has become a community of design professionals who are concerned with social design. We now have around 20,000 individual memebers and 350 organizational members.
On the Allumonde ring:
Usually, when you donate or contribute to a charitable organization, you sort of just forget about it after a while. We wanted Allumonde ring to represent a symbol of the cause, and be a constant reminder that identifies its owners as a member of a socially aware design community.
On international trends in social design:
I personally notice that people from the middle east are very responsive to peace related issues. This has been true for quite a while: the year after 9/11, in a competition themed “Love…Why?” our grand prize winner was a designer from Isreal who designed a beautiful board game where the only rule was you had to play with a diverse group of people. It was a beautiful design with a powerful statement.
On social design:
I am hopeful that at some point, it will be a given. The design community is so active in educating ourselves, and one hope of DESIGN 21 is to promote not only new products, but also new ways of thinking that are worth sharing. We hope that eventually this socially aware mindset will be universal.