November 8, 2013
Yesterday evening, during the opening night of Design Like You Give a Damn LIVE 2013, three entities were recognized as the 2013 honorees of the Curry Stone Design Prize. Each entity was awarded $40,000 along with a beautiful short film featured on Curry Stone’s relaunched website. A fourth, first-of-its-kind Curry Stone Vision Award was conferred and designated with its own film. The first of four films that we will share in the coming days profiles Proximity Designs. The co-founders, Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, share the story of their first product, the Red Rhino, an irrigation pump that has helped over 25,000 farmers in Myanmar.
Proximity Designs is a sustainable development group that works to improve the lives of the rural poor in Myanmar. The nonprofit boosts agricultural productivity by designing, producing, and distributing affordable equipment for people living on less than $2 a day. Proximity’s products—pedal-powered irrigation pumps, gravity-fed drip irrigation systems, and portable water storage tanks—help reduce daily hardships like hauling tons of water.
Click here to view Proximity Designs’ award profile and video, online at CurryStoneDesignPrize.com
February 8, 2013
Sadly, the final installation of Catchafire‘s profiles of “The 11 Most Generous Designers” was just published in Fast Company‘s Co.Exist. The article, “How To Design Products For People Making $2 A Day,” spotlights Proximity Designs, “a for-profit design company whose goal is to create products cheap enough–and good enough–that they can be bought by poor farmers, instead of just giving them aid.” Led by Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, Proximity “works to reduce poverty and advance the well-being of rural families in Myanmar, where the Taylors have worked since 2004.” In the words of Din and Taylor:
When we treat people as customers–not as recipients of charity, they have the ultimate power and choice to decide whether they want to buy what we’re offering. As a social enterprise, we don’t decide what people should get. It’s up to them to decide. So much of the aid industry is based on patronage relationships. We wanted to have a different kind of relationship with the people we are serving. It’s a more transparent relationship, one of mutual exchange and respect. It is less patronizing to treat people as customers than to treat them as “charity recipients.”
Click here to read “How To Design Products For People Making $2 A Day,” online at FastCoExist.com. Caption: Proximity’s foot-operated irrigation pump.
January 21, 2013
A week ago today, Rachel Chong, the founder & CEO of Catchafire–an innovative, for-profit, pro bono service matchmaker–took to the pages of Fast Company‘s Co.Exist to profile what she terms “The 11 Most Generous Designers.” The list was co-curated by Chong and Ric Grefé, the executive director of AIGA, and a member of our Public Interest Design 100. Chong writes, “Whether creating a compelling graphic to raise money or developing a cause awareness campaign or producing a never-before-seen-product that improves an infant’s livelihood, these creative thinkers are impacting our society in ways that are hard to forget.”
Included in Chong and Grefé’s list are Matthew Inman, artist and author behind the comedy website TheOatmeal.com; Heather Fleming, co-founder & CEO of Catapult Design; Dawn Hancock, founder and managing director of Firebelly Design; Timothy Prestero, co-founder and CEO of Design That Matters; Michael Murphy & Alan Ricks, co-founders of MASS Design Group; Anne Frederick, executive director of Hester Street Collaborative; Rich Hollant, principal of Co:Lab; Panthea Lee, co-founder and principal of Reboot; Mark Randall, principal of Worldstudio; Debbie Aung Din & Jim Taylor of Proximity Designs; and Robert Fabricant, Vice President of Creative for Frog. (Seven of the 11 are members of our domestic Public Interest Design 100, while others will be profiled among our upcoming global edition.)
Click here to read Rachel Chong & Ric Grefé’s “11 Most Generous Designers,” online at FastCoExist.com. Caption: Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, founders of Proximity Designs.
April 4, 2012
Proximity Designs (profiled here previously) was in the spotlight again during last week’s Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, where co-founders Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, were celebrated for their groundbreaking work in Myanmar. An interview with Din, which beautifully captures the virtues of human-centered design, also graces the homepage of IDEO.org‘s new HCD Connect website.
Click here to learn more about Proximity Designs, recipient of the 2012 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.