Victor J. Papanek was a designer and educator who advocated for sustainable, functional, and affordable design. His influential book Design for the Real World (1971) argued for design without frills that serves the real needs of the people. Papanek put great emphasis on the use of recycled materials that could be procured cheaply and lower one’s carbon footprint, such as his transistor radio made from tin cans and powered by a burning candle.
Last year, the Museum of Arts and Design in partnership with the Victor J. Papanek Foundation and the Austrian Cultural Forum New York presented the inaugural Victor J. Papanek Social Design Award in honor of the late designer. Entries were solicited from established and emerging designers in the categories of “Designed Objects” and “Social and/or Ecological Infrastructures and Design Concepts.” Four winners and thirteen finalists were chosen from a pool of ninety international entries, and the projects are now on view at White Box from June 18 through July 15.
Winners included Wendy Brawer and Green Map System’s “Open Green Map” social mapping system, which allows users to find and highlight sustainable sites worldwide, and the “Jani Sanitary Pad” made from biodegradable polymers and water hyacinth paper.