Design for the Other 90%

October 4, 2008 to January 25, 2009

A touring exhibition organized by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

Onsite [at] OCAD U hosted Design for the Other 90%, a collection of design solutions addressing the basic needs of poor and marginalized populations not traditionally serviced by professional designers.

The exhibition, organized by the New York-based Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and curated by Cynthia E. Smith, explored a growing movement among designers to design low-cost solutions for the “other 90%” — that is, the 5.8 billion people (out of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion people) who have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted. Design for the Other 90% looked at how individuals and organizations are finding unique ways to address the basic challenges of survival and progress — for example, nearly half of the other 90% do not have regular access to food, clean water, or shelter.

"Unconventionally, this exhibition highlighted products that are economically self-sustaining, yet affordable to people living on a dollar a day — inexpensive irrigation systems for farming, for instance," says Charles Reeve, Curator of the gallery. "The new forms of ingenuity here focus on pressing issues like poverty relief and environmental sustainability, both of which are key themes in what we teach and research here at OCAD University."

Launched as part of OCAD U’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche programming, Toronto was the only Canadian stop for the touring exhibition.

In addition to the exhibition at the Gallery, the Design Exchange presented a complementary program of exhibits and events as part of Design for the Other 90%.

Design for the Other 90% is 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 exhibition's presentation at Onsite [at] OCAD U at was supported by the Toronto Arts Council.

Design for the Other 90

Past Exhibitions


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Francisco Alvarez

Dorene & Peter Milligan Executive Director, OCAD U Galleries

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Lisa Deanne Smith

Curator, Onsite Gallery

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Linda Columbus

Programs Assistant, Onsite Gallery

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