Design for the other 90%, the name is useful to explain the global situation: while the richest 10 percent of the world’s population enjoys the vast majority of consumer goods and services, 5.8 billion people (or 90%) struggle to gain access to the basic things they need: clean water, food, a house. Design for the other 90% explores a growing movement among designers to create objects critical to the survival of people who have almost nothing.
This movement has roots in the ’60s and ’70s, when economists and designers were trying to find simple, low cost solutions as a response to poverty. In recent years, designers have been working closely with users to co-design models to meet their actual needs. The types of products are organized based on the name of the primary need to meet, these are: shelter (which mainly involves architects), health, water, education, energy and transport.
In 2006-2007 there was the first exhibition by Cooper-Hewitt, Design for the Other 90%. it sparked an international dialogue about how design could improve the lives of poor and marginalized communities around the world.
Design with the Other 90%: CITIES is the second in a series of themed exhibitions that demonstrate how design can address the challenges created by rapid urban growth in informal settlements.
The exhibition opens at the United Nations, in partnership with the UN’s Academic Impact global initiative, on October 15, 2011 running through January 9, 2012. Projects and products at every scale will be included, with a focus on designs that are informed by settlement communities: alternative housing design, methods and materials; low-cost clean water; accessible education initiatives; sanitation and solid-waste management; transportation solutions; innovative systems and infrastructure; and urban design and planning.