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%
, presented by the Walker Art Center in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden May 24–September 7, features 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. The exhibition will be open 11 am–5 pm Tuesday–Sunday, Thursdays until 9 pm (open Mondays Memorial Day and Labor Day). Admission is free.
Design for the Other 90%, organized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, showcases designs that use conventional and unorthodox methods, new and traditional materials, or ancient and innovative technologies to solve myriad problems—from cleaner-burning sugarcane charcoal to a solar-powered battery for a hearing aid, from a portable water purification straw to a $100 laptop computer. By actively understanding the available resources, local context, and immediate needs of their potential users, these designers create simple and pragmatic objects and ingenious and adaptive systems that can help transform lives and communities.
More than 30 projects will be featured inside a series of Global Village Shelters—prefabricated emergency housing—located in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden as well as in the Walker’s Bazinet Garden Lobby.
Organized by Cooper-Hewitt curator Cynthia E. Smith, along with an eight-member advisory council, the exhibition is divided into sections focusing on water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation and highlights objects developed to empower global populations surviving under the poverty level or recovering from a natural disaster.
Among the featured objects are the Pot-in-Pot Cooler, a storage container that doubles the amount of crops saved while extending their shelf life; the Big Boda Load Carrying Bicycle, which can easily carry hundreds of pounds of cargo or two additional passengers at a substantially lower cost than other forms of human-powered utility vehicles; MoneyMaker Pumps, which families can use to irrigate fruits and vegetables during the dry season, allowing greater crop yields year-round; and Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child project, an inexpensive, universal laptop computer to be used as an educational tool for children.
Design for the Other 90% also focuses on the design world’s response to the devastation of natural disasters. On view will be furniture recycled from hurricane debris and produced by the Katrina Furniture Project, an organization that trains individuals in furniture craftsmanship and facilitates workshops that function as neighborhood-based places of work, sites of learning, and community centers. Also featured will be examples of shelters used throughout the world, including Global Village Shelters, which are used as temporary homes and rural clinics; Mad Housers Huts, built by volunteers to house the homeless; Day Labor Station, a mobile worker center; and the Seventh Ward Shade Structure, which provides a gathering place for planning reconstruction efforts while the Porch Cultural Center in New Orleans is being rebuilt.
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10 percent of the world’s customers,” said Dr. Paul Polak, president of International Development Enterprises and a member of the exhibition’s advisory council. “Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90 percent,” he added.
In the Shop
The 144-page exhibition catalogue from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum features 200 full-color illustrations and more than a dozen essays by leading experts. $20 ($18 Walker members).
Big Ideas for a Small Planet
Screens each half-hour from 12 noon during gallery hours
This series of documentaries created by the Sundance Channel focuses on innovative ideas for transforming the planet’s future, offering creative green solutions to some of the world’s looming challenges.
2007, video, 30 minutes each.
Target Free Thursday Nights
Thursday, July 3, 6:30 and 7 pm
These focused 15- to 20-minute talks highlight selected artworks in the exhibition and set the stage for illuminating discussions.
Solutions for the Other 90%
Thursday, July 31, 7 pm
Free tickets available at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk from 6 pm.
Good design isn’t just for the world’s richest 10% anymore and the Twin Cities are at the forefront of a new movement towards humanitarian design. Local professionals, students, and amateurs alike are all finding inspiration in tackling a new set of problems: how to bring sustainable solutions to the water, energy, education, healthcare, and transportation to the 90% of the world’s population that can least afford it.
In conjunction with the exhibition Design for the Other 90%, the Walker hosts an edition of Solutions Twin Cities—an ongoing event that brings world-changing design to the forefront of public discourse. In a rapid-fire, media-rich format where each speaker is allowed just six minutes and 40 seconds, this evening of short presentations will cover a cross section of
solution-minded designers working on real-world answers to real-world challenges, both local and abroad. Curated by Solutions founders Troy Gallas and Colin Kloecker.
Free First Saturdays are for Families!
Saturday, August 2, 10 am–3 pm, Free
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Visit the exhibition to learn how design innovations are improving people’s lives around the world, then make your own eco-friendly art projects. Eureka Recycling will be on site to help achieve a zero-waste event and educate families on composting, recycling, and reusing materials.
Summer Design Institute
July 28–August 1
Summer Design Institute (SDI), a partnership between the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the Walker, is an intensive, process-based program that will train 30 selected K–12 teachers to use design in their classrooms. In 2008, SDI will explore the ideas presented in Design for the Other 90%, featuring the work of designers attempting to improve the lives of people living in poverty or recovering from natural disasters.
Summer Design Institute features hands-on workshops and keynote presentations that connect the school curriculum with the world beyond the classroom. Teachers share experiences and then create inventive design-focused lesson plans and activities aligned to the national standards for all grade ranges. To evaluate the effectiveness of this content, Cooper-Hewitt will follow these teachers over the next school year as they integrate these lessons in their own classrooms. Teachers will produce standards-based lesson plans which will be housed on the Cooper-Hewitt’s Web site, www.cooperhewitt.org.