Innovation: Ideas that are out of the box

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate and be inspired by over recent years is the whole concept of innovation – the capacity to do things differently and, by implication, better. Innovation in any area is exciting but of particular interest to me, of course, are any new ideas in the field of education.

A great example of this was brought to my attention in the form of The Ideas Box ( a portable media centre toolkit which fits on two pallets, can be set up in less than 20 minutes and creates a space of 1000 sq feet complete with books and equipment.

The Ideas Box is for educational use in humanitarian crises – so relevant in current times when issues of mass migration of refugees dominate the headlines.  We see the pictures on the news but who wonders how the young people arriving in Europe with only the clothes they stand up in are going to pursue any sort of education over weeks and months when their lives are so uncertain.  The Ideas Box presents a solution by landing precisely where it’s needed and providing the right conditions for learning to take place.

The idea in itself is laudable but it is the execution of this solution which I find so inspiring.  The kit is destined for some of the most challenging environments imaginable and yet it is the team at Phillippe Starke who are behind the design which gives The Ideas Box incredible visual and practical appeal combined with the robust, practical qualities it must possess to survive the harsh wear and tear of use, often open to the elements.  The Starke team have also handed over all IP rights to Libraries Without Borders, the driving force behind the scheme.

Simple ideas, developed with integrity to present elegant solutions to the problems we face. Surely this should be the aim for all innovation.