Massoud Hassani - Mine Kafon
Nominated by Ineke Hans:
Massoud Hassani
for Mine Kafon

I nominate Massoud Hassani’s much-talked-about, hope-giving Mine Kafon project, because I believe in the power of a simple idea and a story that can be expressed in one sentence.

The Mine Kafon is based on a toy the designer had as a child in Afghanistan. A ball made up of spiky arms, it moves forward on the wind like a tumbleweed over minefields and can destroy three or four landmines per outing. The cost of a Mine Kafon is a fraction of the price of a traditional minesweeper. Moreover, it is faster and less dangerous than standard manual mine-clearing.

Improving the world we live in is an important part of a designer’s job. This involves vision and solutions. The Mine Kafon has met with much debate and been called absurd and unfeasible. Dutch design education has been declared bankrupt and accused of allowing students to graduate with projects that are no more than daydreams. For me, it is a breath of fresh air to see a graduating young designer tackling a real-world problem that makes up part of everyday reality for a large part of the global population: a deadly, mine-infested landscape. An estimated 110 million landmines are present in 70 countries and kill an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people a year.

In the face of big problems, large, complex solutions often seem to be called for, and simple ones are not taken seriously. Massoud Hassani proposes an idea that is uncomplicated and hopeful, altruistic and poetic, but also down to earth, as design all too rarely is. It therefore merits attention and respect.

While the idea and the design still require fine-tuning, as is common with degree projects, this work possesses a grandeur that makes it worthy of a nomination. It shows how design-driven ideas can literally get a ball rolling.

Massoud has proven that he in no way intends to let the Mine Kafon remain a fantastical degree project but wishes to make his dream a reality. In 2013, a designer must sometimes necessarily act as an advocate and ambassador for his or her idea if it is to have a chance of succeeding. Hassani has publicised his idea to elicit crowdfunding monies that he will use to optimise the Mine Kafon’s functioning, for instance by adding GPS to keep track of where it has travelled.

The designer’s idea inspires others, and thus progress is made toward optimising the design. This process shows how a design-driven idea that appears childishly simple can lead to great things. You couldn’t ask for a better ambassador for the profession. The Mine Kafon is important not only as an idea and a design but also as a textbook example of how the designer’s way of thinking can serve as a catalyst for solving emotionally charged global problems.

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