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Enter the Redesign Everything challenge for a circular future now

by | Feb 1, 2024

What Design Can Do has launched the Redesign Everything Challenge, its fifth Climate Action Challenge in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation. WDCD invites innovators from every corner of the globe to submit ideas that radically redesign our world — from products and materials to stories, systems, services, and spaces. This call for creativity extends to all aspects of our lives, emphasising the need for circular and regenerative solutions. [This is a partner post.]

The challenge seeks to answer the question: What role can designers play in the transition to a fair and circular future? The challenge runs until 13 March 2024. Apply here.

The time to redesign everything is now

Today, signs of climate breakdown are everywhere. The stark reality of having just endured the hottest recorded year yet serves as a wake-up call, as extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems become more pronounced. The adverse consequences are not confined to distant futures; millions of people are already grappling with the immediate, tangible effects of climate change, from extreme heat waves to devastating natural disasters. However, experts say we still have time to act —a critical window of opportunity in which we must reduce carbon emissions to avoid the worst scenarios that loom on the horizon.

To make this change, we’ll need creative solutions of every scale and in every sector. Many of the problems we currently face are deeply—and increasingly—interconnected, whether we are talking about biodiversity loss in the Amazon, plastic waste in Kenya or the housing crisis in the Netherlands. It follows then, that the best solutions are too. That is why this year – as the planet enters an era of global ‘boiling’ – WDCD is throwing the door wide open and launching its most expansive challenge yet.

Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for inclusive and circular solutions, and for the transformative and disruptive power of design

“Redesigning everything is first and foremost a call to action,” Richard van der Laken, co-founder and creative director of What Design Can Do, expressed. “It’s also an invitation to think laterally about how our world should be redesigned, in ways both big and small. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for inclusive and circular solutions, and for the transformative and disruptive power of design.”

Designers can become the architects of solutions

Liz McKeon, Head of Planet at the IKEA Foundation, says: “In the face of our planet’s greatest challenges, design emerges as a powerful catalyst for change. The What Design Can Do design challenges that we supported have ignited innovative, design-focused solutions led by the creative community themselves, in addressing issues such as climate change, health, well-being, and social equity all around the world. This demonstrates that designers can become the architects of solutions, building a bridge between imagination and impactful change, and have the transformative ability to shape transformation towards a sustainable future.”

Design as a catalyst for a circular society

Tackling the climate crisis means changing how our economy works (and how it doesn’t). No sector can do this alone — but designers can make an impact by shifting from linear to circular ways of making, using and living. Next to this, the most important role of design is that of radical imagination: seeing what does not yet exist, making ideas real, and forging ahead with optimism. That is why for this competition, WDCD are looking for creative climate solutions that cut across various sectors and disciplines. This includes new ideas and existing enterprises for how we might reduce the overall impact of our industries: from food, fashion and packaging, to mobility, electronics, digital services and construction.

How to apply

Participants are invited to submit their project online from 17 January 2024 to 13 March 2024 via the challenge website here.

The Redesign Everything Challenge seeks creative climate solutions across five main disciplines: products, materials, communications, spaces, and systems & services.

In April 2024, a jury of leading experts in design, social impact and climate action will select a minimum of 10 winners. Winning ideas are turned into reality with €5.000 in funding and a global development programme, which includes online training, mentoring sessions and a bootcamp. This programme will support the winning teams in further strengthening their projects and propelling them through 2024 and beyond. As part of the WDCD Challenge network, winners will have the opportunity to appear in global publications and opportunities to speak at WDCD events.


  • Feature image is of a previous winner, Alterist (United Kingdom), an online marketplace for upcycled products, fueled by a community of designers who add value to existing garments and materials.

It is estimated that 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced every year. From this amount, less than 1% ends up being recycled into new clothing, with the majority being sent to landfill or incinerated. Rather than increasing the volume of new goods produced, Alterist is an initiative that aims to add value to garments and materials already existing in circulation. It does so through an online marketplace that unites a community of 72 designers in the UK and EU who are upcycling products from materials that would have otherwise been discarded. The platform also hosts educational content around sustainability in fashion, including community events, meet-ups and campaigns. In the future, Alterist plans to launch a brand collaboration programme which will give brands, manufacturers, and charity stores an opportunity to creatively utilise their excess stock. Once collected, Alterist will make the materials available to its network of designers who will transform them into high-quality garments. Through collaboration and creativity, Alterist aims to change people’s perception of textile waste and revolutionise the role of upcycling in the fashion industry. See their website here. 

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