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This week has seen the announcement of several design competitions and initiatives addressing social issues. Are there any causes you would like to see addressed by design?

An exciting and widespread area of social innovation, that could use some expert help from designers, is time-sharing. Time-based exchange, which is key to survival in this difficult economy, is an exampleof so-called ‘non-market’ work in which we feed, transport, teach and care for each other – only exchanging time, not money, as we do so. Service and interaction design input is needed if time-exchange platforms are to be well-organised, safe and easy to use.

John Thackara, Director of www.doorsofperception.com and Designs of the Time

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The big ‘red’ issues are all well and good, but as a citizen the things that affect me most are those in my neighbourhood. ‘A sense of community and a community with sense’ would be my competition brief, although my current bugbear is the quality of street furniture and, in particular, that black, globulous, knuckle-scuffing, anti-graffiti paint which is worse than the graffiti it prevents. Although not as bad as the ‘lost kitten’ posters stuck to it.

Colum Lowe, Managing director, Caulder Moore

I have three small boys, so knife crime is a cause of great concern. While design alone can’t save the world it can help people change the way they think. Design helps us communicate powerful, often complex, messages in ways people can understand. It’ll take time to change disenfranchised teenage minds, but design may be a powerful vehicle to engage these individuals. Design is, after all, part of their day-to-day vocabulary.

Daniela Nunzi-Mihranian, Creative director FMCG, Interbrand

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It’s got to be sustainability. UK designers have always been very generous in their support of causes. By nature, designers want to make a difference. The big cause has to be global warming and our over-reliance on carbon-emitting technologies. I would like to see the industry respond robustly, not only designing lower-carbon products and technologies, but also communicating consumer behavioural changes and influencing business so the most environmentally sustainable option is the best for the economy, too.

Rebecca Edge, Manager, Audi Design Foundation

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