Nille Juul-Sørensen: Designing systems to solve social problems

The Danish designer implores his peers to step outside their comfort zone and design solutions for social ills.

Danish designer Nille Juul-Sørensen says his country is famous for fantastic chairs and teacups, but it dawned on him that it was time that designers turn their attention to designing for the 99% of people – "to do some design that gives meaning to people and that they can engage in."

"I realised that by working for big companies like Nike, Nasa and IKEA, if we really focussed on the systems that is where the gold is for companies. But also for me as a human being, I will better understand things and my experience of design would be seamless," he says. 

He goes on to question what a "luxury project" is. Is it a beautifully crafted high-end handbag or is it actually a glass of fresh drinking water? For 99% of the world the glass of water is the luxury. 

"We still need nice things around us but we need to put them in a context that gives meaning to us," he argues. 

He believes that we have reached a place in our evolution that designers have to step up: "It is about people and about someone who can decode the life you have and how to move that forward. It is about designing the systems, not the gadgets." 

He believes that we should move from a linear economy to a circular economy where waste feeds back into a system that allows for maximisation and clever application of resources.

"For me it is about creating these systems that you actually don't notice," he says. 


Watch the Talk with Henrik Vibskov, Nille Juul-Sørensen, Vinay Venkatraman, Mikal Hallstrup