20 years ago,
a small project in Norway set out to connect with people around the world through design. Established by the Foundation for Design and Architecture (Norsk Form), the project aimed to prove that design had a vital role to play in tackling the world’s most complex challenges. They knew that whether a community faced issues of ongoing conflict or a lack of financial resources, a solution could be designed. Design just need to reach them. And so, Design Without Borders was established.
In partnership with FK Norway (now NOREC), Design Without Borders achieved these objectives by creating an exchange programme between skilled design professionals in Norway, Uganda and Guatemala. Throughout the programme, a total of 66 individuals participated in the exchange. Our network enabled young professional designers to spend 18 months working on design projects in different contexts than their own. Working with impact-driven organisations in direct service of communities worldwide, our designers design, test and scale solutions in countries like Guatemala, Tanzania, Ethiopia and many others.
Through these partnerships, Design Without Borders contributes to the development of meaningful solutions for a variety of global issues. In Guatemala, our work with Tranciones resulted in an affordable pediatric wheelchair, and in Mozambique, our safety gear protects deminers. In Uganda, we supported Ugastove in developing a more energy-efficient and cost-effective stove. These are just a few of our many projects that support the growth of communities around the world.
In order to work more sustainably and expand our activities, Design Without Borders became an independent foundation in 2013. Design Without Borders Africa, our regional office, was established in Uganda with the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), Fredskorpset (FK Norway), and Peter Opsvik AS. Our core objectives are simple: we aim to deliver both high-quality design work, and the skills required to become a design expert. We are a hub for sharing knowledge of applied professional design practices while providing high-quality design services to a broad spectrum of clients in Africa and beyond. Through these approaches, we hope to encourage the development of resilient and internationally competitive economies through improved social, physical, and environmental conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The administrative Head Office in Oslo works closely together with DWB Africa and is responsible for scaling, international sales, fundraising, and overseeing the implementation of the donor-funded programs.