American designer Yves Béhar has received the prestigious INDEX: Award for his See Better to Learn Better project. The project, which was launched in Mexico in 2010, is intended for children from disadvantaged families that cannot afford eye tests and eyeglasses. To date, 500,000 children in Mexico have had their eyes tested, and 358,000 have received free glasses.
Yves Béhar with pupils from the project
The project, which was implemented in conjunction with the Mexican Government, is based on research showing that 11% of students drop out of schools due to visual impairment. The glasses were specially designed to suit the needs of children and with the aim of changing the widespread perception that wearing glasses is a handicap.
The glasses have been designed to suit the needs of childrenThe children picked the color, shape, and size of their frames (from several options), and thus not only received a pair of glasses, but also became partners in their design.
Catalogue illustrating colors, shapes, and sizes of framesYves Béhar is the first designer to receive the INDEX: Award twice; in 2007 for a laptop project entitled One Laptop Per Child (the project was presented in The State of Things exhibition). The project, which was initiated by a professor from MIT in conjunction with fuseproject (the company founded by Béhar), offered a simple laptop computer with low energy consumption and manufacturing costs. It first came into use in a small village in Cambodia and completely changed the children’s lives. To date, more than three million laptops have been supplied to children in remote and isolated villages all over the world.Béhar’s two projects are driven by the belief that good design can be an agent of change, that design can inculcate basic tools for education and improve the lives of people with limited means.
Yves Béhar’s innovative designs have garnered more than 150 awards, his work can be found in the permanent collections of museums all over the world, and he was listed among TIME’s Top 25 Visionaries. Béhar brings a humanistic approach to his work, and alongside his commercial projects he also creates and promotes projects with a profound social commitment.
INDEX: is a Danish-based non-profit organization that coined the concept “Design to Improve Life”. It works globally to promote and apply both design and design processes that have the capacity to improve the lives of people worldwide. The organization’s biennial award focuses on designers and designs that seek to improve vital areas of people’s lives. “The world needs good design solutions that will change our lives, and there are designers who want to do this. INDEX: brings the two together”, says the INDEX: Award jury.Founded in 2002, the INDEX: Award is the largest monetary prize awarded in the world of design, €100,000.The monetary prize will now make it possible to expand the project to other countries. In the coming year the project is due to travel to San Francisco and to remote Indonesian islands, where it will be implemented in conjunction with local authorities and organizations.