This year, the national Making the Difference Through Design competition, jointly sponsored by Woolworths and Sappi, has uniquely challenged high school design students in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape to identify a sustainability issue in their own communities, and to then find a sustainable design solution. The 2012 competition theme, “You have the power to create a better world” highlighted the pivotal role that designers play in shaping our world, and inspired Grade 10 learner Artemis Spyropoulos of Redhill High School in Sandton, Johannesburg, to design a lightweight scooter made from recycled materials. “The inspiration behind my design is that so many South African learners in rural areas struggle to get to school each day,” states Artemis, “ When I did the research, I found out that, according to the Department of Transport, more than 500 000 learners spend more than an hour walking to and from school each day.” Her solution was to develop a cheap, lightweight scooter simply made from easily available recycled materials. This will save children time each day, thereby creating more time for homework and play. The design includes a storage compartment and all parts are easily replaced. The scooter provides a zero carbon mode of transport. For the first time, the Making the Difference Through Design competition will enable the winning design to be developed into a product. This pilot project is made possible by the donation of R5000 by education software licensing specialists Learning Curve. Artemis will be able to see her design brought to life and the scooters produced will be donated to Ibhongo High School in Soweto. Supporting design education through the Making the Difference Through Design Educational Programme is part of the Woolworths Good Business Journey. Every year, Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners from nearly 400 participating schools are invited to enter the competition and get a real to life experience of the working world of design. “The competition is a wonderful platform to discover future talent and provide learners with an opportunity to showcase their talents. It strengthens design as a discipline but also addresses social issues,” comments Madelaine Fourie from Sappi, co-sponsor of the competition. “Artemis Spyropoulos, the overall winner, showed an understanding of how design can make a difference. Her concept was well-researched, comprehensively thought through, and presented in a professional manner. She met all requirements of the brief and stood out above the rest.” A panel of industry-leading judges agreed that the 2012 sustainable design theme presented an invigorating – yet tough – challenge to the young aspiring designers. Cape Town architect and competition judge, Tsai of Tsai Design Studio points out: “The premise of Cape Town's new title of World Design Capital 2014 is to bring about such changes – a call to action for local designers to open their eyes and take action. Therefore it was only fitting for Woolworths to put forward this challenge at a school level, because this is where we have an opportunity to nurture our future thinkers and designers with the right attitude. “It was amazing, as one of the competition judges, to witness the multitude of fresh and innovative ideas from the learners. The winning design was extremely clever, yet simple, and has an enormous amount of design and entrepreneurial potential”, he said. The Making the Difference Through Design competition is now in its seventh year, and a key goal has always been to enable school communities to comprehend and appreciate the vital role design plays in everyday life. As Woolworths Educational Programme Manager, Peter Twine explains: “Woolworths is passionate about design, and about promoting the idea that design is a powerful tool to be used to better meet social needs and bring about positive change. Good design can improve the quality of life, create important social awareness, and protect our environment.” Design learners were asked to go out into their communities and to identify a particular sustainability challenge affecting water or energy conservation or waste reduction. They had to design a campaign or product to address this issue by making use of a sustainable design strategy and recycled materials. As the national competition winner, Artemis Spyropoulos’s work will be exhibited by Woolworths at the 2013 Design Indaba Expo.

This year, the national Making the Difference Through Design competition, jointly sponsored by Woolworths and Sappi, has uniquely challenged high school design students in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape to identify a sustainability issue in their own communities, and to then find a sustainable design solution.