7 Purposeful Design Projects We Love

What we love most about great design thinkers is that they don't settle for life as it is. They have the mindset, the optimism and the tenacity to believe that the snags of life can be improved, transformed or even eradicated.

Here are seven great design projects that brilliantly reframe, transform and add to life through great ideas and great design.


1. The Lightphone


We love the Lightphone, Designed by Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang.

Unlike most new tech products, the Lightphone has been made to be used as little as possible. The device only makes phone calls and has a limited number of contacts that can be stored, so you even have to be choosy about your favourite people. They say: "We design beautiful objects that respect and empower. They do one thing well. Technology should help us appreciate life more. It should serve, not enslave, us. We don't want to buy more stuff, to be told we're not enough by our feeds, to be tracked or reduced to some data point. We are not anti-technology, we are humans and we're taking our lives back."

Leave your smartphone behind and enjoy peace of mind. Nice.


2. Mind Journal - This Book will make you stronger

Designed by Ollie Aplin, Mind Journal is a beautifully designed workbook that, through various prompts and writing exercises, enables men to externalise and express thoughts and emotions, providing a workout for your mind and your mental health.

Ollie says: "The conversation around men's health and in particular their mental health is growing. And whilst I admire and recognise the importance of breaking down the stigma around mental health, part of me believes that more tools need to be provided - especially to guys, now they’re starting to think differently about their mental health. It’s one thing asking guys to talk, but the tools and services to help them do that, are still lacking in my opinion."


3. Missing Pages

Redesigning life's design flaws are small as well as big. We've all had the torturous experience of assembling Ikea furniture. What if this could be a little more serene?

Designed by Special Projects, Missing Pages is a series of parody instruction manuals designed with the intention of bringing empathy, well-being and delight to a conventionally dull and frustrating experience.

"Couple's therapists, research psychologists and behavioural experts all agree that assembling flat packed furniture together can often take couples down dark corridors. Apparently, this seemingly mundane activity is a potent argument-starter."

The manuals counter your angst with stretching exercises, origami love gifts and other therapeutic paper crafts. Love it.


4. The Happy Film

We were lucky enough to catch a screening of Stefan Sagmeister's Happy Film last week. The documentary explores what happens when he turns his life into a design project with the intention of re-designing himself to be happier.

"Can he redesign his personality to become a better person? Is it possible to train his mind to get happier? He pursues 3 controlled experiments of meditation, therapy, and drugs, grading himself along the way. "

It's a beautifully designed film, really personal, captivating and funny. Worth a watch.

Available on iTunes June 23rd.


5. Before I Die 

The Before I Die project was started by Candy Chang in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina but has since gone on to become a global participatory public art project that: "re-imagines our relationship with death and with one another. Before I Die walls have been created in over 76 countries around the world. Each wall is created by local residents who want to make a space in their community to restore perspective and share more with one another. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.

Design can be as simple as providing a mechanism for the community to participate, contribute and connect.


6. Sway

Sway, designed by UsTwo in collaboration with Danish mental health company PauseAble, is an interactive meditation app designed for mindfulness on the move.

"From simply moving your phone in your hand while sitting down or lying in bed, or putting it in your pocket or handbag and gently sway your body while waiting for the bus or even taking a mindful walk, the user can improve their attention and focus. Practising mindfulness is integrated into everyday life."

It's not easy to use technology to enhance wellbeing, a screen can often have the opposite effect. But this app uses the functionality of the phone in an intelligent minimal way that prompts good daily habits.


7. The Tickle Clock

Designed by IDEO NY designers, the Tickle Clock intends to redesign Monday mornings: "An alarm clock that would make you grin instead of groan".

The clock wakes you gently with a child's joyful laughter. As it giggles, the Tickle Clock rocks back and forth with delight and you can make it laugh even louder by tickling its belly button. To snooze, simply set it upright again. Every week the Tickle Clock features a new laugh—a little surprise to look forward to on Monday morning. 


Leave a comment below and tell us about any design projects that inspire you. What do you love about them? How have they changed your perspective?