Designing a better life. It’s that simple, and the Danish Design Award pays tribute to design solutions that make it happen. In the Improved Welfare category, the purpose is to demonstrate the value of design in the creation of welfare solutions. And with their four very different ideas, this year’s finalists give us their take on how to solve this riddle.
A design award for solutions that strengthen the welfare capacity of society – that’s how the award for Improved Welfare is presented. It is a category that this year covers four very different projects with one thing in common: humans, and how to increase human wellbeing.
One of the finalists in this category is byACRE. This new company designs rollators, but not the typical boring rollators that make you look more ill than you actually are. byACRE makes a product where aesthetics and functionality go hand in hand. Anders Berggren, one of the founders of byACRE, describes the product as a piece of furniture.
“In our society we have baby furniture, children’s furniture, furniture for teenagers, and so on. But as you reach the old age you are offered not furniture but “assistive technologies”, as if you were disabled. We make something that we think is really cool, with a design that fits naturally into a Danish home,” Anders Berggren explains.
The Improved Welfare award is given to “a concept that builds public capacity for offering salient welfare solutions and public services or improves social security in Denmark.”
With a focus on the vulnerable in society, this award celebrates the best and most ambitious social innovation or development effort made for this group of people.
The nominated design from byACRE is its Scandinavian indoor range of walkers. The jury has described byACRE’s work in this way:
“As the average lifespan keeps increasing, so does the need for assistive aids that can be integrated into the everyday life of healthy seniors with mobility impairments. At the same time, many people associate the dependency on a walking frame or a wheelchair with a loss of dignity and identity. The products exemplify functional design that puts the user centre stage, and with its harmonious expression it blends into the home environment without giving it an ‘institutional’ feel.”
The three other finalists in this category are:
Designing Relationships: This is a project which provides vulnerable residents with non-paid relations from the surrounding community, so their social relationships are not solely the responsibility of the state.
The jury says:
“One of the most overlooked and at-risk groups in our society are people with disabilities, who, despite all intentions to the opposite, are increasingly marginalised and excluded from being active members of society. Designing Relationships exemplifies the role that design can play in changing this situation. With its accessible design, this social design concept encourages others to extend the concept and find inspiration to transfer elements from the project to other welfare areas.”
Ourhub: This solution turns social objects, such as outdoor games into conversation starters in the public space. Ourhub aims at making our cities more inclusive, playful, and resilient.
The jury says:
“In recent years, the once deserted urban spaces in Scandinavia have made a comeback, luring local residents out of their flats and resulting in improved health and quality of life. OurHub builds on the notion of recreational urban spaces with a high-tech cabinet that can be accessed with a smartphone, and which may contain things such as table tennis bats, chess or petanque equipment. It is a design solution that meets a need, realizes sharing economy visions, and promotes social interactions in the local community.”
Min plan – my plan: A tool developed to help people find their way around the Danish sickness benefit system. It explains a complex system of rules in a simple way, and empowers people to take charge of their own cases and get well faster.
The jury says:
“Cognitive difficulties can be both a symptom and a consequence of stressful life circumstances, including long-term illness. This points to the need for design solutions that help people with cognitive impairments deal with the often complicated rules and services that make up the Danish program for sickness benefits. My Plan is a graphically simple and efficient solution that provides a better overview and enables citizens and the public system to meet on a more equal footing.”