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Design for the Other 90%

Of the world’s 6.5 billion people, 90 percent 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 reliable access to food, clean water, healthcare, education, affordable transportation, or shelter. The exhibition Design for the Other 90% features more than 30 projects that reflect a growing movement among designers, engineers, and social entrepreneurs to create low-cost solutions for everyday problems. Through local and global partnerships, individuals and organizations are finding unique ways to address the basic challenges of survival and progress faced by the world’s poor.

Design for the Other 90% showcases designs that use conventional and unorthodox methods, new and traditional materials, and ancient and innovative technologies to solve myriad problems—from cleaner-burning sugarcane charcoal to a solar-rechargeable battery for a hearing aid, from a portable instant water-purification straw to a $100 laptop. By understanding the available resources and tools as well as the lives and needs of their potential users, these designers create simple, pragmatic objects and ingenious, adaptive systems that can help transform lives and communities.

Situated in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and free to the public, the objects on view are housed in a collection of Global Village Shelters created by Ferrara Design, Inc., which provide a lightweight, prefabricated alternative for emergency housing.