Monday, July 30, 2007

Design for the Other 90%

Children International writer Kevin Fleming is an aficionado of utilitarian design, believing that form should always follow function.

On a recent weekend trip to New York City, I had an opportunity to visit the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. On exhibit until September 23rd is Design for the Other 90%, which celebrates innovative designs that make life better for many people.

“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%.”

Most of the designs are elegant in their simplicity. The exhibit is inspiring and left me with a feeling that with creativity, imagination and heart we can find solutions for many of the world’s problems.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Q Drum is made of durable plastic. Its design enables one person to transport 75 liters of water.
A cooling effect happens as the water evaporates from the sand, which is in between these two ceramic pots. The pot-in-pot cooler enables produce like tomatoes to last for 21 days instead of 2 or 3.The Bamboo Treadle Pump is two simple pistons, which can be completed with available materials like bamboo. Access to groundwater can guarantee success for crops, even when the clouds aren’t cooperating.

(Photos courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.)

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