Designers do nifty things which most of us come to take for granted in our daily lives. Whoever figured out the spigot was a clever designer, no? These days, other than design for art, design is mostly focused on products and processes. Companies hire creative folks to create toys, clothing, furniture, as well as processes in chemistry and business. Design crosses art, engineering, and science. People pay lots of money for well-designed cars, watches, computers, etc.
But, what about folks who don’t have lots of money. They don’t so much need well-designed cars. They need water, food, education. In the US, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, has an exhibit entitled “Design for the Other 90%” that is about design that promotes cost-effective ways of addressing fundamental social problems in the world. Here’s the idea:
Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted; in fact, nearly half do not have regular access to food, clean water, or shelter. Design for the Other 90% explores a growing movement among designers to design low-cost solutions for this “other 90%.” Through partnerships both local and global, individuals and organizations are finding unique ways to address the basic challenges of survival and progress faced by the world’s poor and marginalized.
Some of these solutions are on display at Peoples Design Awards. From what I can see at the site for the exhibit (which is associated with the Cooper-Hewitt), there are some pretty nifty solutions on display. One is the laptop computer I mentioned in a recent post, but there are dozens of others:
- The LifeStraw, which is a 10-inch, polystyrene-resin-carbon device that purifies water as a person sucks it through the straw (see image).
- A Bamboo Treadle Pump, made of inexpensive, locally available materials, it pumps groundwater during the dry season.
- The Q Drum, which is a 75-liter container in the form of a open-center cylinder that rolls easily and can be used to move clean water many kilometers.
- The Peoples Design Award home page and the page for “Design for the Other 90%.”
- The Cooper-Hewitt home page.
- Wikipedia entry on design.
- New York Times article in science section.
- A few other’s blog entries: