SAAF pioneers design thinking for a cleaner India

Design Thinking provides great new ways of solving problems and creating new solutions. SAAF India tackles this with starting to prototype the experience in Indian Railways.

Design Thinking for a Cleaner IndiaDesign Thinking for a Cleaner India

Saaf India was incubated at THNK, also known as the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership. Sonak, a commercial designer who formerly served as director of partnerships at THNK, helped to develop a curriculum at the school that builds on the work of the Silicon Valley design firm IDEO and the Stanford University Institute of Design (known as the d.school). When Shammy Jacob, a THNK student, suggested tackling India’s solid waste problem, Sonak embraced the idea. (Today, Sonak acts as THNKs India ambassador.)

To meet the challenge of waste in India, Sonak and Jacob began by focusing on the Indian Railways, a system that carries about 22 million passengers—and their trash—every day. The two men traveled thousands of miles on the rail network in an effort to analyze the problem. We found that 90 percent of Indians don’t understand the risks of waste,” Sonak says. Other organizations are attempting to solve the waste problem, but not in a holistic way,” he notes.


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