Hivos International

Age of Wonderland

At Hivos, we aim to innovate for social change by implementing smart projects in the right places. For the third consecutive year, Hivos, Baltan Laboratories and Dutch Design Week have worked in close partnership to create a high impact collaboration of creative thinkers in the Age of Wonderland programme, working with innovators who bring great ideas and new solutions.  

This programme is based on the idea that innovation is not possible without creativity. To this end, Age of Wonderland encourages the exchange of knowledge between thinkers, makers, innovators and doers from Latin America, Asia and Africa. Key ingredients of the programme are residencies, presentations, local follow-ups, knowledge production and product development. The ultimate goals is to find solutions to persistent global issues.

This collaboration of innovators takes place during a residency in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, where the fellows work hand in hand with Dutch designers, scientists, professionals of the creative industries and students to develop their research and projects. Subsequently, the results of this creative thinking are presented at the renowned Dutch Design Week. Their work is also displayed during interactive discussions, workshops and expert panels that everyone attending the Dutch Design Week can join.

Another goal is to link start-up investors to the programme to further develop the projects so they can be implemented in the felllows’ local communities upon return. At the same time, the exchange is meant to foster social innovation within the Dutch and European creative industries, as the fellows develop alternative approaches and problem-solving strategies in collaboration with international communities. This cross-pollination between ideas and people functions as an accelerator of their design research to better address global ecological, social, and economic challenges.

For the first edition in 2014, our fellows presented projects ranging from a platform where people could formulate new laws, to the creation of 3-D printed shoes designed for people with a foot disfigurement caused by chigger disease. The programme came back in 2015 with a completely different topic: ‘Balancing Green and Fair Food’, featuring projects such as Kyrgyzstani nomadic food tasting and the conversion of bio-waste into organic fertilizer. Age of Wonderland always promises creative, diverse and thought-provoking projects.  

This year’s edition (22-30 October, 2016) is once again tackling a new subject: big data. How can big open data be a tool for social innovation? Can it tackle the intricate global and local challenges our planet is facing? Where lies its potential, what are the limits and pitfalls of using big data?

If big and open data is used as a tool for empowerment and social change, it could be a starting gate for a better world. Perhaps it could also lead to further inequality and to the reproduction of mechanisms of exclusion. This contradictory and yet complementary perspective raises questions regarding the ethics and the ownership of information, but also the role of citizens in data storage and collection.

2016 Age of Wonderland fellows

This year, our fellows are Iman Abdurrahman (Indonesia), Paz Bernaldo (Chile), Ali Eslami (Iran), Ng’winula “Unu” Kingamkono (Tanzania), Branly Lopez (Guatemala) and Budi Prakosa (Indonesia). What are the new solutions our fellows are presenting this year? Software that takes back some power from those who produce data, for instance, or the “backpack radio station” that alerts the communities in remote areas of imminent natural disasters.

Throughout the programme, the aspiration of Hivos has been to call upon frontrunners in the global creative community to catalyse their innovative ideas for social change. Since 2015, Hivos has incorporated Age of Wonderland into its Open and Green society programmes to accelerate innovative ideas.

In 2017, Age of Wonderland will take part in the World Design Expo in Eindhoven. This event will mark the end of the programme, but not the aspiration of Age of Wonderland to become a permanent agency of change.