The Ideas Box, a portable multi-media kit for emergency humanitarian situations

Ideas Box deployed 2

  "When one has lost everything and there is nothing else left, the only thing that cannot be taken away is the ability to dream" -- Philippe Starck

An unique concept


Since 2012, Libraries Without Borders has partnered with UNHCR and creator Philippe Starck to create an innovate device that will deliver access to information for people emerging from humanitarian crises. Refugees have immediate pressing needs for food, shelter, health care and clothing. Once these priorities have been met, they need a way to forge social ties, rebuild an informed civil society, and develop resilience for the struggles that lay ahead. Too often, the tools needed for this vital work are lacking.


The Ideas Box fills this void, giving people who have been thrown into chaos the means to read, write, create and communicate. By providing access to the Internet, books, educational resources, theatre, and films, the Ideas Box empowers individuals and communities to begin to reconstruct what has been lost.


cover ideas box

Jérémy Lachal, Patrick Weil, Alexander Soros and Pierre Schapira at the unveiling of the Ideas Box in Paris last October

Addressing urgent needs


Currently undergoing its first trial experience in refugee camps in the African Great Lakes region (Burundi, Rwanda) since February 2014, the Ideas Box will address the following objectives:


  • Empowering through education: Although the Ideas Box does not replace schools, it introduces new resources and educational methods (digital learning in particular) that enhance the learning process and improve the quality of education and the academic development of children. For adults, the Ideas Box incorporates a variety of training resources and provides the tools needed for literacy workshops and professional training.


  • Connecting refugees to the world: By providing Internet access, the Ideas Box enables refugee populations to reconnect with the world, access information, and freely communicate with others. Access to quality information strengthens the capacity of individuals and communities and reinstates them into the global community while providing limitless resources for local training and empowerment.


  • Building resilience, building futures: The Ideas Box is a toolbox for rebuilding lives and communities. One of the project’s most important objectives is to offer populations the means to create their own contents (films, drawings, writing, maps, blogs, etc.) and thus to promote cognitive development and individual and collective empowerment. In chronic humanitarian situations, the Ideas Box will contribute to struggling against boredom, building resilience and helping individuals cope with trauma, grief, and reconciliation.


An integrated design


Entirely designed by Philippe Starck who generously offered his services without seeking compensation, the Ideas Box is based on the following 6 principles:


IDB packed


  • A standardized and clear service for donors and humanitarian actors
  • A highly scalable content-model
  • A device that is easy to transport and deploy on the ground
  • A tool with an easy learning curve
  • A robust device with minimal energy needs
  • A single price for each model of box

What's inside


management component

Management component

cinema component

Cinema component

Library component

Library component

IT component

IT component

The Ideas Box provides access to a wide variety of resources carefully selected by our team based on the needs of diverse cultural and linguistic areas and populations of each implementation zone. Its four content modules allow beneficiaires to connect, learn, play and create. Each Ideas Box is equipped with:


  • 15 touch-pads with satellite Internet connection;
  • 50 e-readers, 5000 e-books and 250 paper books;
  • MOOCs and stand alone Internet contents;
  • An in-built TV set, a retractable projection screen and 100 films;
  • Board & video games, and other recreational activities;
  • 5 HD cameras for participatory journalism and film-making;
  • 3 GPS devices for participatory mapping 
  • Arts & crafts materials and more!


For more information about the Ideas Box, log on to or download our press release!


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