Swarovski Foundation announces Creatives for Our Future grant winners

Nine emerging creatives have been selected by an international committee for the Swarovski Foundation Creatives for Our Future programme, and will present their work concurrently with the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly in September 2021

Three photos for a sketch of a self-regenerating water-based lamp. The background is black, with white lines. The only color on the sketch is for the lamp, which is yellow and blue.
A project by Italian industrial designer Daniele Ficarra, one of nine emerging creatives selected for the Swarovski Creatives for Our Future initiative. Ficarra’s project is a self-regenerating water-based lamp that exploits the oxidation reaction of light-emitting bacteria
(Image credit: swarovskifoundation.org)

The Swarovski Foundation Creatives for Our Future grant winners have been announced by the Swarovski Foundation. The nine grant winners will take part in the inaugural Creatives for Our Future programme led by the Swarovski Foundation with support from the United Nations’ Office for Partnerships

Selected by an international committee, the nine emerging creatives operate across the fields of sustainable fashion, product design, biotechnologies, architecture, engineering and visual arts, and they were chosen ‘for their groundbreaking ideas and their innovative approaches to design, which offer new methods for addressing today’s challenges from climate change to human rights.’

Swarovski Foundation Creatives for our Future: the nine grant winners

The Self-regenerating water-based lamp has a yellow stand made out of metal, with an hourglass-like glass structure filled with water.

A render of Daniele Ficarra’s self-regenerating water-based lamp

(Image credit: swarovskifoundation.org)

The Swarovski Foundation grant winners are: Sejal Budholiya, a mechanical engineering performance artist and entrepreneur from India; Polish graphic designer Agnieszka Doczynska; architect Yara Mohamed Evida from Egypt; Italian product designer Daniele Ficarra; engineer Ghislain Irakoze from Rwanda; Vienna-based Japanese fashion designer Shuzo Matsuhashi; Nigerian mechanical engineer and entrepreneur Osasumwen Obasogie; American footwear designer Benjamin Spencer; and textile designer Camila Wandemberg from Ecuador.

Each of the grant winners will have the opportunity to present their work concurrently with the UN high-level segment of the General Assembly in September 2021.

A 3D render of a portable hydrogen-powered cooking burner. A round metal construction, with a yellow generator box attached, with a light attached to it.

The project submitted by Nigerian mechanical engineer and entrepreneur Osasumwen Obasogie is a portable hydrogen-powered cooking burner with a thermoelectric generator that harnesses heat energy to generate sustainable, affordable and clean electricity. Obasogie explains that the project was designed ‘using an interdisciplinary approach of both mechanical and electrical systems’

(Image credit: swarovskifoundation.org)

‘I am delighted that the Creatives for Our Future programme received so much interest from young talents worldwide,’ comments Nadja Swarovski, citing the fact that the initiative had gathered over 400 applications from 172 countries. ‘This is evidence of the strong commitment from younger generations to use their creativity to raise awareness and find solutions in sustainable development. Swarovski Foundation’s mission is to foster creativity for the benefit of society and the environment, and creatives are the problem solvers and critical thinkers that will lead solutions to sustainability challenges like climate change and human rights issues in this pivotal era.’

The Creatives for Our Future programme

Each participant will each receive a $15,000 grant, as well as opportunities to further their education, access to industry networks and tailored mentorship provided by the Swarovski Foundation with a group of specially selected advocates. These, the foundation writes, ‘will engage as master teachers and mentors for the participants, with the aim to empower the vision and practices of the selected cohort’. Lined up as advocates are designer Yves Behar, Neri & Hu’s Rosanna Hu, architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo, Dacra president Craig Robins, artist Yinka Shonibare, and fashion designers Prabal Gurung and Phillip Lim, alongside Nadja Swarovski. 

A black female artist is painting. The painting is colorful and shows a black woman laughing.

The Kigali Green Gallery project by Ghislain Irakoze gained her a place among winners of the Swarovski Foundation Creatives for Our Future programme. It is ‘a creative project that aspires to artistically reconnect Africa with extinct and endangered species’. The gallery ‘will be youth-centered, involving ten young artists in residency to develop 100 paintings while promoting environmentally sustainable artistic design using eco-friendly painting boards made from banana trunks’

(Image credit: swarovskifoundation.org)

‘Creatives for Our Future provides an opportunity for co-creation of sustainable solutions to better our planet and our communities,’ said Annemarie Hou, acting executive director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships. ‘We need young global leaders to harness their creativity to lay a foundation for new ideas and pathways to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.’

Concludes Nadja Swarovski: ‘Emerging talents drive innovation, and this programme will equip them with the education, tools and contacts to help make their groundbreaking ideas a reality.’



Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.