A life-saving syringe that colours red after its first use, the BioLite HomeStove that reduces toxic indoor smoke by up to 90%, and better refugee housing by the Swedish Refugee Housing Unit. These are the finalists for the World Design Impact Prize 2013-2014 (WDIP).

The World Design Impact Prize was founded two years ago by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) with the belief that solutions to most societal challenges already exist, but are unrecognized or untapped. The biennial prize is meant to bring these existing ideas to the forefront. The winner of this second edition will be announced at the World Design Capital International Design Gala on 28 February in Cape Town, South Africa.

The three finalists were chosen from 26 submitted products and services that aim to build capacity and engage and empower citizens. Seven projects were nominated, including the Laddoo project from India, which turns a traditional dessert into a healthy high-nutrient snack for children, the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a wheelchair for rough terrain, and the Indian Potty Project, which brings ecological sanitation infrastructure to housing projects. From Australia, a unique service called Family by Family facilitates the creation of a support network for families.


ABC (A Behaviour Changing) Syringe makes invisible risks visible and empowers patients to have a voice in their care provision, since they can see whether a syringe is new or not. The design by David Swann from the University of Huddersfield unites two proven technologies: colourimetric inks and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). After the nitrogen-filled blister is opened, it takes 60 seconds for the syringe to turn red. The recolouration inhibits the operability of the syringe and serves as a visual warning of prior use to both literate and illiterate patients. This design has the potential to save millions of lives by preventing the reuse of disposable syringes.

Another lifesaver is the BioLite HomeStove a biomass cookstove, first invented by John Cedar as an efficient alternative to camping stoves. The BioLite stove uses patented thermoelectric fan technology to reduce toxic indoor smoke by up to 90%, to eliminate up to 2.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) per stove each year, and to provide users with the capability to charge mobile phones, LEDs, and other USB-powered electronics.

Refugee Housing Units (RHU) are designed to provide a semi-permanent housing solution in the most severe conditions with a minimum of maintenance. Designed by Dennis Kanter, this pilot project was developed with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). It consists of cost-efficient, modular, adaptable and flat-packed units, made in conjunction with IKEA, and offers an alternative to the tents the UNHCR currently provides to refugees.

Three projects that do indeed deserve a prize.