Have you ever tried to catch a monsoon? As 41 aspiring designers learned this weekend, it’s not as simple as you think. Especially when you impose rules that mimic resources in the developing world, where catching rainwater is a serious necessity. Facing their constraints, eight competing design teams scrounged for materials all over campus and fashioned a group of highly unorthodox rainwater collector designs.
The weekend-long “monsoon collection” competition was the inaugural design project of the d.school’s Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability class. As simulated monsoon rain showered down on the improvised designs, the teaching team gave a muddy lesson in the value of prototyping. At the end of the three-hour event, some monsoon catchers lay in ruins while others surprised the judges with their fantastic performance and brilliant innovations. The judges awarded prizes not only for best performance, but for outrageous visual appeal, team spirit, elegance, and sheer guts. The competitors left soaking wet and speckled with mud, but eager to get back to the studio, designing products to help the world’s poor.