Monday, April 30, 2007

Design for the Other 90%

"The numbers seem nutty. There are 6.5 billion people on this planet, 90 percent of whom can't afford basic products and services. Half of them, nearly three billion people, don't have regular access to food, shelter or clean water. Yet whenever we think, or talk, about design, it's invariably about something that's intended to be sold to one of the privileged minority - the richest 10 percent." So begins Alice Rawsthorn in her sharp review of "Design for the Other 90%," a new exhibition at The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, which opened on Friday. The show looks at 30 humanitarian design projects that cover the basic needs of shelter, health, water, education, energy and transport. Some projects were invented by their users, others by design professionals, and many were collaborations. Read the rest of Rawsthorn's review here, and be sure to look at the slide show, too. Shown here is the Sierra portable light mat, created by women weavers in the San Andreas region of the Sierra Madre, Mexico as an illuminating rug powered by a combination of LEDs, switches and rechargeable batteries. It is currently being tested in Mexico and Australia.
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