Open Innovation Contest to Design a More Efficient Apartment

Published Apr-04-11

Open innovation creates a more efficient, environmentally friendly apartment to show that living with less is possible.

Company: "LifeEdited", United States

The Story:

 Open Innovation Contest to Design a More Efficient Apartment Breakthrough ideas can and often do emerge by having a fresh set of eyes look at a problem. Open innovation can bring new and diverse perspectives to bear on old and familiar dilemmas which is what attracted Graham Hill, the founder of (a prominent environmental sustainability website) to come up with a crowdsourcing initiative to design an apartment for him to live in.

Hill claims that 80% of the average carbon footprint is related to the buildings we live in and so he is intent on living in an efficient apartment with less space. He summed up his reasoning to one interviewer: “Every room you build, you gotta build it, fill it with things, light it, heat it… so if you have a dining room you use once a month, you might want to rethink that room.”

Open Innovation Contest

To get the ball rolling he created a $70,000 open innovation competition called LifeEdited to generate a design for a 420-square foot apartment in New York City that he will move into. It may sound easy but he attached some specific rules namely that the very best in modern technology must be used and that in making the space efficient, luxury should not be sacrificed. The design must be able to accommodate a 12-person sit-down dinner, a lounge that can fit eight, a home office, a hideable kitchen, a work area with space for a rolling tool chest, and space for two guests while maintaining visual privacy.

In addition the competition stipulated that as the room function is changed it should not feel like you are eating in your bedroom or sleeping in your office.

Huge Response

The competition closed in January 2011 and the LifeEdited website received more than 6000 images and videos, 7,000 comments and around 70,000 votes for the 304 submissions, with the crowd pushing its members to even greater creative heights.

Many of the ideas will remain online to be used as reference, and to inspire others to rethink how they can buy, rent and furnish their properties with maximum efficiency.

The winning design was “one size fits all”. Overall the judges fell in love with the aesthetics and the plan that perfectly fulfilled the brief and that would make the apartment a great place to live. It included such design features as a moving wall, space saving furniture systems and a built-in wall folding side sofa.

The next step for Hill and his team at TreeHugger is to search for a contractor to make the design a reality. There will be a few modifications and Hill will work with the “one size fits all” designers who were awarded the design contract as well as a $10,000 cash prize.

Overall Hill admits to being blown away by the quality of the submissions and impressed by how an open innovation and crowdsourcing approach was able to generate such fantastic solutions.

“There were some incredible ideas that came out of this competition and it was fascinating to see how many different approaches there could be for one small rectangular space.”

Future Open Innovation Contests is also now looking at ideas for future open innovation competitions including one that will ask the crowd to come up with a more efficient family home.

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