Design for the Other 90% demonstrates how design can be a dynamic force in saving and transforming lives, at home and around the world.
This movement has its roots in the 1960s and 1970s, when economists and designers looked to find simple, low-cost solutions to combat poverty. More recently, designers are working directly with end users of their products, emphasizing co-creation to respond to their needs.
Many of these projects employ market principles for income generation as a way out of poverty. Poor rural farmers become micro-entrepreneurs, while cottage industries emerge in more urban areas. Some designs are patented to control the quality of their important breakthroughs, while others are open source in nature to allow for easier dissemination and adaptation, locally and internationally.
Encompassing a broad set of modern social and economic concerns, these design innovations often support responsible, sustainable economic policy. They help, rather than exploit, poorer economies; minimize environmental impact; increase social inclusion; improve healthcare at all levels; and advance the quality and accessibility of education.
For the first time more of us are living in cities than ever before. This is an historic shift in civilization. This massive urban migration into crowded, unhealthy, informal settlements is the leading challenge of this century, pushing beyond the capacity of many local institutions to cope. Driven by economics and globalization, coupled with a rising waters and desertification around the globe, it requires new strategies and structures that encompass environmental, spatial, social, economic and culturally specific approaches.
Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, 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 regular access
to food, clean water, or shelter.
Design for the Other 90% explores a growing movement among designers to design low-cost solutions for this “other 90%.” Through partnerships, both local and global, individuals and organizations are finding unique ways to address the basic challenges of survival and progress faced by the world’s poor and marginalized.
Designers, engineers, students and professors, architects, and social entrepreneurs from all over the globe are devising cost-effective ways to increase access to food and water, energy, education, healthcare, revenue-generating activities, and affordable transportation for those who most need them.
Design for the Other 90%: CITIES is the second in a series of themed exhibitions that demonstrate how design can address the world’s most critical issues. The CITIES exhibition was conceived to broaden exchanges of knowledge between the people living in our growing cities in Global Majority Countries such as Chile, Bangladesh and Kenya. Architects, engineers, designers, planners, policy-makers, non-governmental and funding organizations work together to generate healthier, inclusive cities. Placing people at the center of the solution is paramount to gaining the required insight to meet this challenge. Innovative urban solutions are the result of including the community in a participatory approach to planning and urban design. The advent of south-to south exchanges between poor urban communities, local knowledge sharing between the slum dwellers and professional designers and increased discourse flowing south to north are changing the dynamic at both local and international levels.
The Design with the Other 90%: CITIES 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 in the 5,000 square foot exhibition, 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.