Design For The Other 90%
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2008
"Design for the Other 90%" was published for the exhibition of the same name at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum at the Smithsonian. More like a review of an exhibition than a definitive text, the book is a nice brief review of some very interesting designs that are useful all over our planet. The book does not seem to be intended to teach you how to build, but rather to inspire you to think about building differently.

The book contains a collection of inventions - most of them quite simple. Examples are a "pot-in-pot" cooler which uses evaporative cooling to keep food from spoiling, a portable water filter for drinking water, a communal solar-powered kitchen, a gravity-powered drip irrigation system, and small-scale photovoltaic lighting. There are many more interesting ideas within these pages.

You won't learn the details of construction from this book, but you will be stimulated to think more broadly about designs that are useful for the majority of humans on our planet.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2009
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. While I did not see the original exhibit that inspired the publication of this book by the Copper-Hewitt, the book stands well by itself. The fact that we take so many things for granted makes this book a revelation. I bought 5 copies to give away to architect and engineer friends. I think it will prove revelatory and may inspire them to return their thinking to the most elementary basics of design; elegant and highly practical solutions that work for all of us, not just the needy 90%.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2011
This amazing book is deceptively simple with breakthroughs on 2 levels:
First, it focuses on designs that address the basic cause of world poverty: INADEQUATE INCOME! Most of the designs featured help the users to generate dramatically higher income. For example, a hand operated drip irrigation system can allow a farmer to create a 10 fold increase in income! This is THE key to sustainable international development. Secondly, the designers focus on the developing world as an economic market, NOT a charitable cause. It's all about designing the right product (to meet the real needs of a local market) at the right cost (ideally with a VERY quick payback,allowing the buyers to increase their income) for a huge market. This is another key to a sustainable international development model. Until we see the developing world as a viable economic force, we will continue to pour in aid that has no leverage.
Buy this book to see some innovative product designs, but even more importantly to gain insights into the design THINKING behind successful products that have a truly positive effect on the lives of those in the developing world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2009
Cynthia Smith put together an excellent exhibition by the same name at the Cooper-Hewitt. This book is an excellent companion and great text book for design students and especially for those in other fields to learn how design is an integral part of development. Inspiration and pragmatism make change.
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on November 21, 2012
LOVE this book. it's a perfect gift for an engineer, designer, or artist. And also great for anyone who actually cares about improving the world. I have a copy and bought one for my brother in law. the projects are ingenious and interesting, although not always totally practical, at least it is a showcase of people TRYING to design things to make the world a better place instead of just making something look pretty (not that there's anything wrong with that... but it's nice to read about things that are being done with humanity's best interests at heart.)
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on March 8, 2013
It has more the shape of a magazine than a book but the content is pretty good starting for those (like me) looking for simple information about social design. Very nice examples, pictures and explanations about each project and its impact.
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on December 18, 2012
Inspiring and essential, a guide showing what designers (and not only) can do to help the other 90% by using their skills and available technology to solve some serious problems of everyday life.
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on December 18, 2013
I bought this book as a gift, I couldn't give the gift because it was so poorly printed. It was just a shame because the info was interesting.
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on July 30, 2014
It's a nice book, but not something I would buy except that it was needed for a class.
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on September 13, 2014
Wonderful and hopefully inspiring to all who read it.
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