Big plans, tiny creations win at world's largest design prize

The winners of the world's largest design prize have been revealed with miniature computers, food saving paper, and a birthing simulator among those taking home a share of the INDEX Award 2013. Judges at Thursday's award ceremony in Helsingør, Denmark announced the five victors, plus the winner of the People's Choice Award with glow in the dark road concept Smart Highway taking the popular prize.

The €500,000 award recognizes design innovations that address the large scale challenges the world faces. INDEX's panel of judges deliberated over five categories of award Body, Home, Work, Play and Community aimed at rewarding design that improves lives across many different spheres. Taking home the Play category award on the night was the most recognizable of this year's winners: the credit card-sized computer Raspberry Pi earned judges' praise for the scope of its ambition. The $25 Pi was originally designed to teach coding skills to children, but has already found an incredible range of applications from flying into space and snapping sky-high photographs, to controlling the temperature of a craft brewery. The judges said that the objectives of the microcomputer echo INDEX's own goal of improving everyday life. "If we want the young generation to design the future, we need to make them computer-literate," the jury said, adding that Raspberry Pi holds the power to make this a reality. 

This year's Home Award winner Fresh Paper may be less well-known but could soon be having as strong an impact on lives around the world, judges believe. The square sheet of paper makes use of the natural bacteria- and fungus-inhibiting properties of spices like fenugreek to keep fruit and vegetable produce fresh for two to four times as long. Judges praised its simple design-based response to "one of the world's largest challenges." The affordable Fresh Paper requires no instruction or special skills to use but the jury believed it could play an important role in cutting the estimated 25% of the world's food supply lost to spoilage. 

Before picking up both a People's Choice and Community category award, Smart Highway inventor Daan Roosegaarde told: "I'm not so much interested in design, I'm more interested in reforming things." His wide ranging concepts for reforms to our highways caught the attention of the jury of design professionals, as well as a public tired of unchanging gray streets and judges. Among his revolutionary ideas were streetlights that produce their own electricity, road lanes that charge electric cars, glow in the dark road markings, and icy road warnings that appear in the cold.

The INDEX judges applauded Roosegaard and lauded his reinvention of the "dumb" roads of the past into intelligent, safe, communicating highways for the future.


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