D&AD 2019 Impact award winners announced

Among the 32 awards, two Black Pencils and four White Pencils were given out at a ceremony in New York, which saw the top accolades go to a system for rendering 3D-printed guns useless and an Ikea project which enables furniture to be retrofitted to empower people with disabilities.

The 2019 D&AD Impact Award winners have been announced, with Ikea’s ThisAbles furniture design initiative and French manufacturers Dagoma’s Harmless Guns project winning the top Black Pencil prizes. Common among this year’s recipients were 3D printing and AI, with both aforementioned winners using the technologies in their entries.

This year’s competition marks the fourth year of the Impact awards, with previous winners including the “Fearless Girl” statue outside the New York Stock Exchange designed by Kristen Visbal and French grocery multinational Carrefour for its Black Supermarket campaign.

“Democratising design”

IKEA’s ThisAbles campaign was covered in Design Week when it launched earlier this year. It comprises a range of add-ons that, when fixed to existing Ikea furniture, aim to make life easier and safer for people with disabilities. The series includes shower curtain grippers, bumpers for bookshelves and large-sized lamp switches.

The project was led by Ikea’s Israel office, and was born out of a need to find an affordable way to cater to the one in ten people who struggle with “regular” furniture. Prospective users are able to download 3D blueprints for the add-ons and then print them either at home or at a 3D printing facility. It is, according to Ikea, a way of “democratising design”.

Fighting against untraceable guns

Meanwhile, Dagoma’s winning project uses the company’s 3D printing knowledge to curtail the increasing threat of 3D printed guns. By collecting printable weapon files via an online platform and then changing the blueprints, the team created hundreds of objects that are useless when printed. They then spread these altered files across the internet.

Additionally, the team developed a detector software which prevents the manufacturing of weapons on their 3D printers. Dagoma says after eight months in operation, more than 13,000 “harmless guns” have been downloaded.

Inaugural Future Impact winners

Beyond the Black Pencil winners 30 other awards were given out, including four White Pencils, the second-highest accolade. Among those are the StorySign Huawei app, which helps deaf children to read through AI, and the Xbox adaptive controller by Microsoft, which enables disabled gamers to play videogames.

Alongside the Impact award winners, D&AD also launched its Future Impact award this year, focuses on what it says are “creative ideas that have the potential to change the world. These included Pinyapel, a paper made from pineapple waste, and Soundless Beats, an in-the-classroom tool to help deaf children learn about music.

These Future Impact winners will now received access to a $150,000 (£117,000) fund that aims to help to further the designs.

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