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Design for the Other 90%

Posted on: Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Cooper Hewitt Museum has currently transformed their grounds into a mini-village of sorts showcasing innovative designs geared towards improving the lives of "the other 90%" of the world's population. It is a bit odd to view quick-to-assemble water pumps, readymade housing, and communal solar cookers in a lush, walled garden on Manhattan's affluent Upper East Side. But then again, we do live in a city of haves and have-nots and homeless individuals.

One is struck by how simple some of the proposed solutions really are, and how necessity is indeed the mother of invention. What unites many of the objects and devices with their designers and users is their potential to allow for change or improved conditions in communities that typically subsist by minimal means but with an ad-hoc sense of design and total lack of waste. This exhibit really suggests that 'shelter' is no longer strictly a structure providing protection from the elements, but rather a well-conceived design that creates community and greater ease in a world that is unaccustomed to taking the path of shared, global subsistence.


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