The i-Lab, Air Liquide’s new ideas laboratory, has just concluded an awards ceremony at the Cité de la Mode et du Design in Paris honoring students at design schools for their ideas aimed at improving air quality in cities. Air quality, which has become a major challenge for our societies, is the subject of an action program developed by the i-Lab, whose goal is to imagine and design solutions that will improve our capacity to “Breathe in the City”.
The international Breathe in the City idea contest launched in 2014 by the Air Liquide i-Lab challenged students from 10 industrial design schools to imagine innovative and clever solutions that respond to the issue of air quality in the city.
More than 110 students in design programs from 8 different countries (South Africa, Canada, China, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) worked on every aspect of the Breathe in the City theme (information, prevention, mobility, health and wellbeing, etc.). Nearly 50 projects were submitted during the course of this contest, which took place over a period of one year.
Students were asked to imagine a product, a service, or an application that fights – directly or indirectly – against air pollution, whether it occurs indoors, outdoors, or on the move. A team from the Air Liquide i-Lab worked with the students to help them understand the issue of air pollution and its effects on people and then refine the ideas that emerged.
François Darchis, member of the Air Liquide executive committee in charge of innovation, presided the jury, whose other members included Terence West, Corporate Director of Research at Steelcase; Lorna Ross, Director of Design at Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation; Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Lab at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Véronique Hillen, founder and dean of the Paris Est d.school; Jean-Marc de Royère, International Director and a member of the Executive Committee at Air Liquide; Diana Schillag, VP, Healthcare World Business Line at Air Liquide; and Olivier Delabroy, VP, Research and Development at Air Liquide.
After deliberating, the jury gave out 6 awards:
- The Easy-to-use award went to the Osis project submitted by Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland);
- The Easy-to-implement award was given to the AirPlay project submitted by Strate, School of Design in Paris (France);
- The Out of the box award was bestowed on the B-Pure project imagined by the Sustainable Design School of Nice (France);
- In addition, three projects received a special mention: The Concrete Tree project submitted by ISIA di Roma (Italy); Bruthe, a project submitted by the Design School of Nantes Atlantique (France); and Spiro, submitted by the Zurich University of the Arts.
The members of the jury were impressed by the professionalism of the students, all of whom presented original ideas. In addition to the aesthetic quality of the proposals, the jury was particularly appreciative of the association of technology and the natural elements and the effort to take new urban usages into account, such as mobility and the use of digital tools, as well as the educational aspect. Information about the projects will soon be available on the ilab.airliquide.com website.
The Breathe in the City design contest is one of many initiatives that the i-Lab has launched for the purpose of detecting new ideas. These ideas will serve as a source of inspiration for discussions that result in imagining and designing solutions that will improve our capacity to “Breathe in the City.” They also exemplify the Air Liquide open innovation approach.
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The Air Liquide i-Lab
The i-Lab is the Air Liquide group’s laboratory for new ideas. Its purpose is to help accelerate the pace of innovation and to explore new markets. Boasting both a think tank and a venue for experimentation (a “Corporate Garage”), the i-Lab develops new products, solutions, and technologies in conjunction with the Group’s Innovation units and World Business Lines. Based in Paris, the i-Lab works with the Group’s R&D sites in Europe, the USA, and Asia. @iLabAirLiquide
The Air Liquide Group
World leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, Air Liquide is present in 80 countries with more than 50,000 employees and serves more than 2 million customers and patients. Oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen have been at the core of the company’s activities since its creation in 1902. Air Liquide’s ambition is to be the leader in its industry, delivering long-term performance and acting responsibly. Air Liquide ideas create value over the long term. At the core of the company’s development are the commitment and constant inventiveness of its people. Air Liquide anticipates the challenges of its markets, invests locally and globally, and delivers high-quality solutions to its customers and patients, and the scientific community. The company relies on competitiveness in its operations, targeted investments in growing markets and innovation to deliver profitable growth over the long-term. Air Liquide’s revenues amounted to € 15.4 billion in 2014, and its solutions that protect life and the environment represented more than 40% of sales. Air Liquide is listed on the Paris Euronext stock exchange (compartment A) and is a member of the CAC 40 and Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 indexes. @AirLiquideGroup