WASHINGTON (April 20, 2010)—The National Geographic Museum will open a new exhibition Wednesday, April 28, highlighting the growing trend among designers to develop solutions that address basic needs for the vast majority of the world’s population not traditionally served by professional designers. Of the world’s 6.5 billion people, 90 percent often lack the means to purchase even the most basic goods. “Design for the Other 90%,” a touring exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, presents more than 30 innovative products and solutions to these obstacles. It will be open through Sept. 6, 2010.
“Design for the Other 90%” is divided into six sections: water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation. Featured objects include Torben Vestergaard Frandsen’s Lifestraw, a portable water-purification tool that turns surface water into drinking water; Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child project, an inexpensive laptop used as an educational tool; and D-lab’s Sugarcane Charcoal, an inexpensive, environmentally friendly alternative to wood charcoal that can cause respiratory problems.
The objects showcased in the exhibition are the result of collaborations between engineers, designers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs working to respond to the needs of underrepresented populations. This growing movement advocates decreasing environmental impact, increasing social inclusion, improving healthcare and furthering the quality and availability of education.
“We hope this exhibition will help visitors think about their daily needs and ways that resources might be creatively adapted to serve larger populations to improve their quality of life,” said Susan Norton, director of the National Geographic Museum.
Since 2007, “Design for the Other 90%” has traveled from the National Design Museum in New York City to the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, the Global Health Odyssey Museum at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and other museums in the United States and Canada. The exhibition’s Web site is at www.other90.cooperhewitt.org.
“Design for the Other 90%” was organized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. The exhibition was made possible by the Lemelson Foundation. Additional funding was provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, the Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund and the Ehrenkranz Fund.
The National Geographic Museum is located at 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25. Admission is free. For information on “Design for the Other 90%” exhibit, the public should call (202) 857-7588 or visit www.nationalgeographic.com/museum.