INDEX: award 2015 winners announced
(above) TESLA POWERWALL, INDEX: award 2015, COMMUNITY category winner
image courtesy of tesla energy




the biannual INDEX: award seeks to acknowledge those projects which have enabled design as a tool to address our world’s biggest challenges. operating with the overall theme of ‘design to improve life’, the INDEX: award has become the most international important design award offering a prize value of €500 000 (over five projects), highlighting those creative developments which have contributed to enhancing human life on a variety of different levels.


the INDEX: award is divided into five categories: body, home, work, play & learning and community. each of these classifications selects entries from a range of design fields which have sought particular global challenges and offer new perspectives and developments on how to tackle these prominent issues. it is the jury’s primary task to review the nominations and choose the finalists and winners of the INDEX: award. composed of 13 influential international figures whose backgrounds include the development of urban infrastructure, philanthropy, curation and media, this unique group engages in a continued discussion, evaluation and assessment of ‘design to improve life’ and how each nominee’s prospective project responds to this mandate, and the impact it could potentially have on the world, before making their decision.


the 2015 INDEX: award finalists and jury members came together this evening at an event in copenhagen where this year’s category winners were announced:


INDEX: award 2015, BODY category winnerPEEK RETINA
INDEX: award 2015, HOME category winner – TESLA POWERWALL
INDEX: award 2015, COMMUNITY category winner – THE OCEAN CLEANUP ARRAY
INDEX: award 2015, PLAY & LEARNING category winner – DUOLINGO

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costing approx. $3,500 USD, the batteries are compact, easy to install, as well as maintain
image courtesy of tesla energy




the ‘tesla powerwall’ is the 2015 INDEX: award COMMUNITY category winner. the design is a rechargeable battery that aims at revolutionizing energy generation, smooth out power consumption, and cut down one’s energy bills and carbon footprint. solar-powered by lithium-ion batteries, the ‘tesla powerwall’ will allow individuals to store energy generated during the day and use it at night, eliminating the need to buy electricity from utility providers in the evenings at peak rates. this implementation will lead to increased independence from the power grid, as well as provide a back-up solution in the case of a power outage. according to tesla CEO and founder elon musk, although the ‘powerwall’ charges using solar power, it will also be integrated with the grid ‘to harness excess power and give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.’

the unit can be mounted on the wall, with up to nine stacked together to create a large power source
image courtesy of tesla energy




employing tesla’s proven automative battery technology, the unit consists of a solar panel that is installed on the roof, a battery to store surplus energy, and an inverter to convert solar power into electricity. it is easy to mount on the wall, and like regular batteries, can be used together, with up to nine stacked together to create a larger power source. the ‘tesla powerwall’ has the ability to provide an uninterrupted supply of power in case of an electrical outage, and offers reliability for those living in remote locations or areas that are vulnerable to storms.


of the winning project, INDEX: award jury member arnold wasserman, chairman of the idea factory and partner at collective innovation commented:it’s an absolute game-changer. energy self-sufficiency – what could be bigger than that?




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INDEX: award 2015, COMMUNITY category winner – OCEAN CLEANUP ARRAY
image courtesy of the ocean cleanup




joining the ‘tesla powerwall’ as INDEX: award 2015, COMMUNITY category winner is the ‘ocean cleanup array’. conceived by 20 year old dutch designer boyan slat, the system is set to be the first of its kind to sustainably clean the plastic pollution from the world’s oceans by using its natural rotating currents to its advantage. the design is envisioned for large-magnitude deployment, covering millions of square kilometers, with the floating barriers placed in the center of the circular gyres; passively collecting the debris much like a giant funnel, while the current flows freely underneath. completely safe for marine life, ‘ocean cleanup array’ is almost entirely self-sufficient, functioning predominantly on energy harnessed from the sun and waves.

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a single 100 km floating barrier, deployed for 10 years, will remove 42 percent of the great pacific garbage patch
image courtesy of the ocean cleanup




the jury awarded ‘ocean cleanup array’ for its potential to address one of the biggest global challenges, not only benefiting the environment and biodiversity; but simultaneously improve human health by reducing the amount of plastic toxins that are circulating throughout the food chain. it is also projected that using a single 100 km floating barrier, deployed for 10 years, will remove 42 percent of the great pacific garbage patch which equates to approximately 70,320,000 kilograms.


it’s a beautiful intellect to use nature to your advantage. this is a great example of an initiative that is driven by broader principles to improve life for all humanity and our surroundings for many years to come.’ – INDEX: award jury member lim chee onn, senior international adviser to the singbridge group

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image courtesy of sky greens




the jury has named the ‘sky urban vertical farming system’ the INDEX: award 2015, WORK category winner because it stands as a powerful representation of the future of sustainable urban agriculture. the design is the world’s first low-carbon, water-driven plot that grows vegetables through efficient and highly sustainable production methods. designed by jack ng, who has more than 27 years of experience in the construction and engineering industry, the gardening infrastructure utilizes minimal land, water and energy resources, while providing the community with fresh, locally grown vegetables. the result is a dramatically smaller carbon footprint than traditional farming and import systems.

sky urban vertical farming system 2015 index award winner_designboom_005housed inside greenhouses, the almost nine meters tall towers contain 38 shelves growing a range of vegetables
image credit: sky greens




housed in protected outdoor greenhouses, each tower of the ‘sky urban vertical farming system’ measures approximately nine metres tall, and contains 38 shelves that grow a diverse range of exotic vegetables. these trays slowly rotate vertically throughout the day so that they receive an equal amount of sunlight when they are at the top of the tower, and water when they are at the base. it is powered by a hydraulic system that utilizes only 0.5 liters of water per day, and then reused on the produce once the cycle has been completed.


the jury felt that the project proves that vertical farming can compete with, and produces better results than traditional methods. ‘this design is tackling so many challenges, food distribution, transportation, environmental issues, and the list just goes on,’ said INDEX: award jury member patrick frick, co-founder of the value web and partner at social investors. plus, its scalability allows it to be implemented almost anywhere in the world, ensuring more food supply resilience across the globe, as well as preservation of the world’s natural resources.

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INDEX: award 2015, BODY category winner – PEEK RETINA
image courtesy of peek vision




with the potential to reduce global blindness by 80 percent, by bringing professional eye care to remote areas of the world without compromising the quality of examinations, the INDEX: award 2015, BODY category winner is ‘peek retina’. the jury gave the initiative the accolade because it represents the new generation of smart phone diagnostics. the portable eye examination kit uses apps and simple adapters to allow almost anyone to perform quality eye tests. the technology employed takes photographs of one’s eye that allow the user to look inside of the patient’s eye in order to identify problems, leading to a more timely diagnosis for treatment, and ultimately prevention of disabling eye conditions and blindness.

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‘peek retina’ takes a high quality image of the retina making it easy to track irregularities in the eye
image credit: peek vision




‘peek retina’ is comprised of an adapter that is fixed onto the smart phone letting the user easily point and shoot a photo of the retina. the resulting high quality image then makes it easy to track irregularities. accompanying apps, which use cross-culturally recognizable symbols to communicate, can also stimulate the patient’s compromised vision and contrast it with normal, healthy vision. another bonus is that ‘peek retina’ is easier to use in comparison to traditional ophthalmoscopes, making it more suitable for a wider group of health care workers, including accident and emergency staff, consultants, family doctors, general practitioners, medical students, nurses, ophthalmologists, optometrists, orthoptists, even vets.


INDEX: award jury member veronica d’souza, co-founder of ruby cup said of the winning project:peek retina creates an opportunity for anyone to leverage the knowledge of experts anywhere in the world, in an incredibly smart and low cost way – in other words the device is a great connector… it’s an inspiration for other health care solutions and is symbolic of how far phone diagnostics have come.’

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INDEX: award 2015, PLAY & LEARNING category winner – DUOLINGO
image courtesy of duolingo



‘duolingo’ is a platform that is changing the way we learn languages, offering free, quality education for anyone with internet access. selected as the INDEX: award 2015, PLAY & LEARNING category winner, ‘duolingo’ uses game-like modules to cover almost every element in language education, teaching users to write and speak accurately. offering 39 courses in 23 languages, the program is broken up into lessons, in which players cover everything from animals to everyday phrases, to correct pronunciation and even politics. each time gamers complete a section, they receive rewards in the form of virtual currency called ‘lingots’ and bonus rounds. players are encouraged to practice each module on a regular basis to keep their progress bars full, and ensure that the grammar and words they have learned remains fresh in their mind.

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the duolingo interface
image courtesy of duolingo




while the game is designed to benefit the individual, it also extracts value from power in numbers by allowing users to harness their knowledge for another cause — translating the entire internet. for example, an untranslated sentence from the french wikipedia is presented to a player on duolingo, who then translates it in a matter of seconds. that data is then saved and can be shared to anyone, anywhere.


‘duolingo’ was awarded by the jury for its ability to democratize language education, as well as foster global communication. as globalization continues to change the world, learning a new language for many has not been more essential, and the program will allow societies to build new connections and aid smoother integration across the globe. ‘it’s a great movement towards human based computation, citizen research and is one way of the best ways of answering the question – how can you effectively utilise the skills of 7 billion people on the planet?– INDEX: award jury member patrick frick, co-founder of the value web and partner at social investors.


stay tuned for designboom’s coverage of each of the 2015 INDEX: award winners!