This week Japan’s Good Design Awards, which have been recognizing achievements in product design across industries since 1957, announced their 2022 top awards. Among the winners were Terumo’s flow disruptor that treats brain aneurysms and Hitachi’s modular refrigerator that blends in with the rest of your furniture. But the recipient of the grand prize wasn’t a global brand, nor did it utilize cutting edge technology. Instead, it employed a unique business model at the community level that was aimed at nourishing and enriching the lives of children.
The top prize of the 2022 Good Design Awards was presented to Tyrol-Do, a “magical” candy shop that supports children who live in poverty, or who are lonely. Inspired by the nostalgic dagashiya candy stores of the past, Tyrol-Do, which takes its name from tirol chocolates, a staple in such candy stores, began their operations last year in Nara.
The “magic” happens as you enter the store and encounter a capsule vending machine made available to anyone under the age of 18. With 100 yen the gachas, as they’re called, dispenses a new type of currency called “tyrols” that’s worth a lot more but can only be used in the store. Children can use their converted tyrols on snacks, but also full meals.
Importantly, the store is also open to adults who pay full price and whose proceeds then go towards subsidizing the meals and snacks of the children. In this way, Tyrol-Do manages to create a simple yet intuitive system of support that involves the community in a way that feels natural and sustainable. Children are still taught the value of money but those who don’t have the means are able to participate on a more level playing field.
the tyrol currency, which can be exchanged in the “magical” gacha for 100 yen
Of course children don’t have to purchase anything. Tyrol-Do also acts as a safe space where kids can do homework, study or just hang out. Tyrol-Do has since opened a 2nd location this year in Kanazawa. The founders hope that their magic continues to spread around Japan. Even if you don’t live in the neighborhood, you can support Tyrol-Do through a monthly subscription. You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
One of the founders of Tyrol-Do explains that the concept was born from their experience working at a government-run welfare facility and having to deal with all the bureaucracy that came with it. There were certain rules and guidelines that people had to follow to prove that they needed support. Helping others should be a much simpler affair, they thought, which eventually led to the concept of Tyrol-Do.
a graphic that illustrates how Tyrol-Do’s subsidized system works