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Seven Inventions Which Could Solve The Future

The next generation of designers is channelling its craft to tackle pressing world problems. 


When the brightest young minds from around the globe were given the challenge of solving some of the world’s most pressing issues, the results were inspiring. The work, drawn from 100 of the world’s best design schools, was exhibited at the Global Grad Show as part of Dubai Design Week last November.

Free from the commercial pressures of professional life, the next generation of designers is channelling its craft to improve the world. Billionaire looks at some of the best.


Stem is a new agricultural system that grows and pollinates plants to produce food without bees. A response to the threat of bee extinction, it assumes a worst-case scenario, seeking a way to live without them. Pollination is done using robotic arms on a vertical carousel.

Designed by Peter Cheah of Monash University

Stem, an agricultural system designed by Peter Cheah


Myko is a technique for creating furniture out of reishi mushrooms, a strain that has structural qualities that can be used in construction. The density of the reishi’s skin makes it both water- and fire-resistant. Myko is a series of experimental and entirely biodegradable furniture pieces.

Designed by Marek Glogowski, Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw

Myko, furniture grown from mushrooms


Twinkle is a project inspired by the inadequacies of current street lighting, which leave many neighbourhoods less safe: in perception and reality. Inspired by fireflies, the project imagines a population of technocreatures that live on light posts, solar charging by day. At night, each individual Twinkle acts as a companion to pedestrians with a playful non-threatening presence.

Designed by Honghao Deng and Jiabao Li, Harvard University

Twinkle, solar-powered mobile lighting for unsafe urban areas


Leaves is a sustainable coffin designed to bring burial practices into harmony with the natural world. Current Western funeral practices damage the environment by preserving bodies with toxic chemicals and encasing them in coffins that deplete natural resources, pollute the soil and require huge amounts of energy. Leaves is made with biodegradable materials and coated with fungal spores, which helps the body to decompose. A tree is planted above the burial site to become a new beacon of life.

Designed by Shaina Garfield, Pratt Institute

Leaves, a biodegradable coffin, by Shaina Garfield


Rafts for Phytoremediation of Surface Water is an organic tool for treating water pollution. The living green plants clean up wastewater. The plants are introduced via a raft system that floats in water in order to remove contaminants through the plants’ roots, making it a widely applicable solution to water pollution worldwide.

Designed by Ashley Lincoln, University of Houston

Rafts, a system for treating water pollution

Gassed Out

Gassed Out is a proposal that seeks to anticipate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables by transforming gas stations to community ‘energy hotspots’. Under the scheme, inactive gas stations become hubs for powering and fuelling our homes and buildings. As well as a conduit for generation, distribution and storage or renewable energy, these buildings offer a physical space for the community.

Designed by Toban Shadlyn, Rhode Island School of Design

Gassed out, putting disused gas stations to use


Twenty is a collection of dehydrated household products designed to reduce unnecessary emissions and waste. Most of the cleaning products we use every day are composed of at least 80 percent water, which means four-fifths of the truck, ships and planes transporting these products are just moving water. With Twenty, users just place a capsure into a bottle, add water and shake.

Designed by Mirjam de Bruijn

Twenty to save emissions and waste

This article originally appeared in Billionaire's Visionaries Issue, March 2019. To subscribe contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.