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Design 21: Social Design Network Goes In Pursuit of Hapiness

NEW YORK.- How can we bring hope for peace, happiness, and positive change to those parts of the world where hardships are a way of life? Seeing the creative arts as a powerful tool for hope and change, DESIGN 21 – an online platform founded by Felissimo and UNESCO – developed Happiness: The Tribute 21 Plate Challenge. Designers of all disciplines are invited to submit an original design that communicates a wish, inspiration or message for children and future generations about seeking happiness in harmony with our surroundings. A portion of the proceeds from plate sales featuring participants’ designs will benefit the UNESCO/Tribute 21 DREAM Center Fund, which provides arts programs to children.

The Tribute 21 Plate Project began in 1996 with the goal of making the dreams of children around the world come true – especially those living in traumatic, war-torn regions. Every year, Japanese design and merchandising company, Felissimo, produces a series of plates featuring the illustrations of present-day icons such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jeffrey Sachs, Alice Waters, Shigeru Ban, Angela Missoni and Julia Roberts. These not only act as symbols of hope but also produce a real, tangible effect, with a portion of the proceeds from every plate sold allocated to the Felissimo Plate Fund. Of that money, half goes to benefit the plate creator’s chosen charities, while the other half is donated to UNESCO/Tribute 21 DREAM Centers, which provide underprivileged children opportunities and tools for creative expression. To date, sales from these unique collector’s plates have contributed $450,000 to the UNESCO/Tribute 21 DREAM Center program, which has now established locations in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Haiti, among others.

According to Felissimo Director and DESIGN 21 Founder Haruko Smith, “We want to serve a need that is not being met by programs that address basic needs (food, shelter, health care, etc.). Art is often left out because it’s treated as luxury. DREAM Center is a program that makes art accessible to children to empower them with ways to express themselves creatively and perhaps in the process, gives them a powerful source of self-confidence.

This year, organizers of the Tribute 21 Plate Collection have decided to open the project to Felissimo customers and DESIGN 21 members by hosting the Happiness: Tribute 21 Plate Challenge on the DESIGN 21 site. Entrants are asked to submit: an original design made to fit a 21 cm plate, and a brief description of the design explaining their visual interpretation of “happiness in harmony with our surroundings.” The deadline for entries is July 31, 2009.

Representatives at Felissimo headquarters in Japan will judge the submissions based on originality, relevance, and aesthetic appeal as well as their ranking in an online public voting poll. Up to 12 designers will be selected to receive: $1,000 in prize money, which can either be kept or donated to the charity of the individual designer’s choice; 10 plates featuring their design; and a collector’s box of 500 Felissimo-designed color pencils. Felissimo will also produce the winning designs and sell them through their catalog business in Japan, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the UNESCO/Tribute 21 DREAM Center Fund.

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