What Design Can Do Urges Creatives to Build a Circular Society — One Great Idea at a Time

by Team Conscious Carma

What Design Can Do (WDCD),  an international platform that advocates for design as a tool for social change since 2011, launched an ambitious design challenge programme in 2016 that engages the creative community with urgent societal issues such as the wellbeing of refugees and climate change. So far, the programme has resulted in €10m in funds raised by initiatives post programme. 

Their Fourth Challenge  Make it Circular Challengein partnership with the IKEA Foundation is inviting designers and creative entrepreneurs globally to submit design-driven innovations from 11 October 2022 – 31 January 2023.

When it comes to the climate crisis, there’s no time for cynicism. With millions of people already experiencing the effects of a warming planet first hand, we need to move forward with optimism and momentum. This is the driving force behind this challenge which is inviting solutions from all innovators — from designers to entrepreneurs — to submit their boldest climate solutions using circular design.

Winning proposals will be made into reality with an impact-driven development programme. The end goal? To create products, services and systems that are both user-centred and earth-centred, showing that a circular future is not only imaginable — but actionable.


Most economies today are based on a linear model, where value is created by producing and selling as many products as possible. The problem is, it operates on the assumption that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. Today, we are seeing just how wrong this assumption was, as we face an accelerating climate crisis. Yet when looking ahead at the route to a circular society, many people only see obstacles that they would rather not or cannot take on. One of the most important challenges is to convince them that we can create a new world which makes our lives not less but even more fulfilling.

circular society conscious carma

“Many people become lost in the face of so much outrage, fatigue and disinterest — but not creatives,” says Richard van der Laken, co-founder and creative director of WDCD. “The ability to imagine is the creative community’s ideal domain: seeing what does not yet exist, taking on a challenge, forging ahead with optimism.”

The challenge is released and executed in India by local amplification partners UnBox Cultural Futures Society and research partners, Quicksand Design Studio

“The Make it Circular Challenge shows how it is possible to use creative design practices to rethink our current problems, and address the most pressing needs in order to create a more equitable future for all. Our partnership with What Design Can Do will bring to designers and creative entrepreneurs an opportunity to drive meaningful change by submitting their radical climate solutions using actionable circular design principles,” says Ayush Chauhan, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Quicksand Design Studio & UnBox Cultural Futures Society. Quicksand Design Studio is an interdisciplinary creative consultancy facilitating the creation of meaningful experiences through design research and innovation.

A jury of leading experts in design, social impact and climate action will select a minimum of 10 winners. Winning ideas are turned into reality with €10.000 in funding and a global development programme co-created with Impact Hub Amsterdam, which includes online training, mentoring sessions and a bootcamp. This programme will support the winning teams in further strengthening their projects, and propelling them through 2023 and beyond.

The Make it Circular Challenge is active in six countries around the world: Kenya Japan, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

For more information, visit www.whatdesigncando.com 

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