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Design for the other 90%

David Stairs over at Design Observer reviews the exhibition "Design for the Other 90%" at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. He visited it having just arrived from 10 months in Africa. He was worried by what he found.
"Essentially, Design For the Other 90% is shot through with well-intentioned nostrums, familiar statistics, and a messianic calling to open peoples' eyes to the disparities of the world."
The gist:
- Many of the 'solutions' were not practical and showed little understanding of the African daily living experience - they presumed too much. Designing at a cultural and physical distance results in turkeys.
- an over-reliance on novel technologies that may not fit the situation.
- The design is one way - gifts from the 1st to the 3rd world. "The idea of design intervention — sustainable or otherwise — may feel very intrusive to people who are still reeling from 150 years of colonial intervention. (You don't just waltz into a patriarchal society and aggressively advocate equal opportunity for women, or deliver pumps and boreholes to peasant farmers without understanding the sociology of migratory herdsmen)."

Design for the Other 90%, exhibition in Cooper-Hewitt garden. Exhibition design by Studio Lindfors; graphic design by Tsang Seymour Design. Photograph by Andrew Garn.
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