Three drones flying above a forest

INDEX: Award 2021 celebrates designs that "bring humanity forward"

A non-hormonal contraceptive, insulation made from mycelium and a movement that uncovers racial and gender bias in algorithms have been announced among the winners of one of the world's leading design prizes, the INDEX: Award.

One winner from each of the five INDEX categories will receive a trophy at an awards ceremony in Copenhagen today during the live finale, which will be streamed globally.

Now in its 19th year, the biennial INDEX award evaluates designs that "improve life", and "bring humanity forward".

"Over the past year humanity has endured extreme hardships and as such never before has solution-driven design deserved such recognition and celebration," said Liza Chong, CEO of The Index Project.

"This year's winners reflect the shift we have seen globally in the past 18 months towards a more egalitarian, sustainable and progressive future," she added.

This year, the five categories are body, work, home, community and play and learning.

Each winning design, which has been selected by a panel of 14 international judges, aims to solve a social, environmental or economic problem.

See all the winning projects below:

A hand holding a contraceptive

Designer: Oui
Category: Body

The Oui Capsule is a non-hormonal contraceptive that aims to help women take ownership of their bodies. Designed by Copenhagen-based company Cirqle Biomedical, the contraceptive works by reinforcing the natural mucus barrier inside the cervical canal. This makes ovulatory cervical mucus impenetrable for sperm cells.

Users can apply the vaginal capsule before or during intercourse, and it is effective a minute after insertion.

Panels of beige coloured mycelium insulation

Designer: Biohm
Category: Work

British biomanufacturing company Biohm has used mycelium, a mushroom root, to produce an environmentally regenerative natural insulation. The concept was born out of the need to reduce the building industry's carbon footprint, which is one of the largest in the world.

The insulating material can be used in both cool and warm climates to lower operational energy consumption and reduce energy consumption overall.

A drone flying above a gazebo

Designer: Flash Forest
Category: Home

Canadian rainforest reforestation company Flash Forest uses aerial mapping software, drone technology, automation and science to accelerate reforestation worldwide and secure the future of our home and planet.

The software is used by NGOs, governments and corporations in order to successfully reforest and plant trees.

A woman holding a white face mask

Designer: Algorithmic Justice League
Category: Community

Algorithmic Justice League is a movement uncovering racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

As well as raising awareness about the impact of AI, the group offers practical ways to report AI biases, such as educational workshops and conducting company audits to analyse ethical and moral practices.

A phone showing a winning design from the INDEX awards 2021

Designer: Truepic
Category: Play and learning

Photo and video verification platform Truepic uses artificial intelligence, cryptography, and computer vision technology to authenticate and approve images and videos as they’re captured.

The aim is to help democratise technology by helping individuals to establish what's real from what's fake.

The Index Project foundation was created in 2002 to shine a light on Danish design. In 2005, it launched the Index Award, which has since become of the world's largest design awards.