The Ideas Box, a portable multi-media kit for refugee and vulnerable populations

ideasbox img1

  "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


Libraries Without Borders (LWB) has partnered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Philippe Starck to create the Ideas Box. A portable toolkit, the Ideas Box equips vulnerable populations with customized technologies and programming to access critical information and to produce culture in different media. Humanitarian crises cause urgent needs for food, shelter, healthcare, and clothing. At the same time, refugees are deprived of information, culture, education, and professional training, and they suffer from trauma, boredom, and loss of hope.

The Ideas Box provides individuals and communities isolated by disaster the tools to read, write, create and communicate. Each box unfolds to create a customized library and media center, with internet access and its own power source. Easily transportable, sturdy, and simple to set up, the Ideas Box empowers communities to construct an informed civil society and to pave the way for a self-reliant future.



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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) since February 2014, the Ideas Box will address the following objectives:


  • Capacity-building through education: The Ideas Box provides tools to complement overburdened schools. It supplements existing schools with new pedagogical methods, including digital learning. For adults, the Ideas Box offers tools for literacy workshops, professional training, and self-education.


  • Connecting refugees: Through internet access, the Ideas Box connects displaced communities to the outside world, enabling refugees to access vital information and knowledge. Refugees acquire the capacity to access limitless resources for professional training and self-empowerment.


  • Building resilience, building futures: The Ideas Box supports the rebuilding of lives and communities, giving people the means to produce their own cultural creations (photographs and videos, artwork, writing, blogging, and more). In refugee camps, the Ideas Box contributes to cognitive development, supports the struggle against boredom and alienation, helps build resilience from trauma and grief, and fosters reconciliation.


An integrated design


Sharing the values of LWB, Philippe Starck contributed his vision, imagination, and resources to design the Ideas Box. The device is based on the following 6 principles:


IDB packed


  • A standardized device containing scalable technologies
  • Customizable contents adapted to specific cultural and linguistic communities
  • A device easy to transport and set up
  • Simple to operate with minimal training
  • A robust device and sustainable with minimal energy needs
  • Economical and cost effective

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 and 4 laptops with satellite Internet connection;
  • 50 e-readers, 5000 e-books and 250 paper books;
  • MOOCs and stand alone Internet contents (Wikipedia, Khan Academy...);
  • 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!


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