Bas van Abel is nominated with Fairphone by Erik en Ronald Rietveld for the Rotterdam Design prize. They nominate Bas van Abel for Fairphone because he is using vision, creativity and open design in an effort to impel a billion-euro industry to change and offering consumers a more sustainable alternative to a product that plays a central role in their everyday lives.
Van Abels' Fairphone looks the same as every other smartphone – but nothing could be further from the truth. Smartphones are tainted by child labour, environmental pollution, conflict minerals, African wars fought by child soldiers, and electronic waste. But the smartphone production chain is so complex that almost no one knows the whole story any longer. In building his ethical smartphone, Van Abel shows that it is possible to regain control over this process and to spare human beings and nature.
For years, Van Abel has been a pioneer of the open design movement. Its adherents allow their work to be freely distributed and documented and permit modifications and derivatives. The Fairphone makes open design a forceful instrument for social change, using the method to modify the production chain one step at a time. Van Abel has deliberately used the standard smartphone manufacturing process for the Fairphone in order to make use of the existing production chain and thereby effect positive change at various stages of the process. He has dared to take the first step on the long road toward sustainable, fair-trade smartphones free of child labour and conflict.
Until 30 January, one day for the awards ceremony on 31 January 2014, one can vote on his nomination for the public award.