OCAD University

Media Advisory: OCAD President Sara Diamond

to address The Economic Club of Toronto

TORONTO, October 30, 2008—The Professional Gallery of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) present Design for the Other 90%: A Panel Discussion on Friday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. The panel discussion is part of the Professional Gallery’s presentation of the Smithsonian touring exhibition of the same name. Design for the Other 90% highlights design solutions that address the basic needs of poor and marginalized populations not traditionally serviced by professional designers.

The panel will include:

  • Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Design for the Other 90%, of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (New York, U.S.A.);
  • Modesta Nyirenda-Zabula, Project Manager with Godisa Technologies Trust (Gaborone, Botswana), which designed and manufactures “SolarAid,” a solar-powered hearing aid (exhibited in Design for the Other 90%); and
  • Professor Vikram Bhatt, Director of the Master of Architecture in Minimum Cost Housing Program, McGill University School of Architecture (Montreal, Canada).

“This panel will bring to life the solutions presented in Design for the Other 90% for countering the extreme poverty experienced daily by billions of people around the world,” says Professional Gallery Curator Charles Reeve, who will moderate the panel. “We’re especially pleased to have Modesta Nyirenda-Zabula with us from Botswana to discuss Godisa’s innovative approach to addressing hearing loss among highly impoverished populations.”

“As the exhibit shows, good design is about more than form and function. It must also take into account the needs of local communities if it is to enhance their quality of life,” says David M. Malone, President of IDRC. “We’re delighted to contribute to a discussion that will examine the transformative role that design can play in encouraging and sustaining development among the poor.”

The OCAD Professional Gallery is the only Canadian stop for Design for the Other 90%. An extensive website, including a blog, discussion forum and additional resources is available at http://other90.cooperhewitt.org/.

Design for the Other 90%: A Panel Discussion is held in conjunction with the Universities Art Association of Canada’s annual conference, November 6 to 8 at York University in Toronto. For complete conference details, visit www.yorku.ca/uaac.

Design for the Other 90%: A Panel Discussion
Friday, November 7, 7:30 p.m.

Ontario College of Art & Design
Auditorium, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto
416-977-6000 | www.ocad.ca

All are welcome and admission is free. Limited seating is available; guests are advised to arrive early.

Design for the Other 90% continues at the OCAD Professional Gallery until January 25, 2009.

OCAD Professional Gallery
Level 2, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto
416-977-6000 Ext. 265 | www.ocad.ca
Gallery hours: Wed. to Fri., 1 to 7 p.m; Sat. and Sun., 12 to 6 p.m.

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 the OCAD Professional Gallery at the Ontario College of Art & Design is supported by the Toronto Arts Council.


Panellist biographies:

Cynthia E. Smith
Cynthia E. Smith is the curator for the exhibition Design for the Other 90% at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Most recently she completed a MPA at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, integrating her work experience with her advocacy and activism on the issues of human rights and social justice. While at Harvard she co-authored “The Politics of Genocide: US Rhetoric vs. Inaction in Darfur” for the Harvard Kennedy School Review and joined a Graduate School of Design team to plan a new national park in response to the expanding sprawl north of Dallas. Trained as an industrial designer, for the past decade she planned and designed projects for cultural institutions, resulting in numerous award-winning projects. A common thread in all of her work is working collaboratively to bring a collective idea into an innovative form.

Design for the Other 90% explores a growing movement among designers to develop solutions for the 5.8 billion people across the globe (90% of world’s population) not traditionally served by the professional design community. Through local and global partnerships, individual designers and organizations are finding unique ways to address the lack of basic necessities faced by the poor and marginalized around the world. Each object selected tells a story and is a window into this expanding field of design, demonstrating how design can be a dynamic force in transforming and, in many cases, saving lives.

Modesta Nyirenda-Zabula
Modesta Nyirenda-Zabula has been working with Godisa Technologies Trust since 2002, where she was part of the team that transformed the concept for a hearing aid into a final product. At Godisa (which means “doing something that is helping others to grow”), Nyirenda-Zabula brought together a team of hearing-impaired colleagues to help build a market base for the “SolarAid.” She was instrumental in developing the second generation of the initial technology, which has received international recognition through exhibits and articles, and received regional and national design excellence awards. Nyirenda-Zabula continues to work closely with foundations in developing countries seeking to promote the social enterprise mission of delivering affordable life-long hearing to people in developing countries. Most notably, she is working with AMASOURD, a Malian non-governmental organization for the deaf, with support from World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Uniterra, to set up a Godisa-like operation to serve West Africa.

Nyirenda-Zabula is an active supporter for deaf rights and empowerment, especially in areas of human development, HIV/AIDS awareness, employment and sign-language recognition. She provides sign-language interpretation of the daily national late-news bulletin, and serves on a reference committee for the development of the local national sign-language resource book. She helped establish the first sign-language interpreters’ association in Botswana.

Vikram Bhatt
Vikram Bhatt is Professor of Architecture at McGill University, where he teaches courses in Housing Theory and Housing Project, and directs the Master of Architecture in Minimum Cost Housing Program. He is also the Director of the Minimum Cost Housing Group (MCHG) of the McGill School of Architecture, an educational and research unit with an international orientation that focuses attention on the human settlement problems of developing nations. He is a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Bhatt is the author of Resorts of the Raj: Hill Stations of India and co-author of After the Masters: Contemporary Indian Architecture and The Urban Problematique. He has also contributed to standard references such as the Encyclopedia of 20th Century Architecture and Time Saver Standard for Urban Design.

Born and raised in India, Bhatt graduated from the prestigious Ahmedabad School of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning in 1973. During and after completing his professional studies, he worked for the renowned architect Balkrishna Doshi. He obtained his Masters of Architecture from McGill University in 1975 and joined the research team of the MCHG under the direction of Professor Witold Rybczynski. After working for the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa in 1977–78, he joined the School of Architecture at McGill.

About the International Development Research Centre
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the world’s leading institutions in the generation and application of new knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For nearly 40 years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.

About the OCAD Professional Gallery
OCAD’s Professional Gallery is devoted to facilitating connections between, and the contemplation of, contemporary art and design. Since its launch in April 2007, it has featured exhibitions by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Karim Rashid, Mark Adams and Rosalind Nashashibi.

About the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
The Ontario College of Art & Design (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “university of the imagination.” OCAD is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. The university is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinarity, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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Media Contacts:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer, OCAD
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile: Ext. 1327)

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