Design For The Bottom Of The Pyramid.

Bruce Nussbaum

Cooper Hewitt in NYC is going to have a great exhibit in May of beautifully ugly products designed to help people in developing countries--things like water pumps and pots and heavy-load bikes. It highlights the work of designers focussing on the needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially getting clean water.

Yes, the One Laptop Per Child will be there and many less obvious products as well.
Let me quote:

The exhibition will feature design solutions for the poor and marginalized around the world, ranging from the LifeStraw®, a mobile personal water purification tool, to furniture made from hurricane debris through the Katrina Furniture Project, which works to rebuild the economic and social capabilities in New Orleans.

Exhibition objects include the Pot-in-Pot Cooler, a storage container that doubles the amount of crops saved while extending their shelf life; the Big Boda Load-Carrying Bicycle, which can easily carry hundreds of pounds of cargo or two additional passengers at a substantially lower cost than other forms of human-powered utility vehicles; MoneyMaker Pumps, which families can use to irrigate fruits and vegetables during the dry season, allowing greater crop yields year-round; and Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop per Child project, an inexpensive, universal laptop computer to be used as an educational tool for children."

The Cooper Hewitt, also known as the National Design Museum, is doing very impressive work in design, design education and design thinking these days. It has opened its board to a larger design community, including people trying to push design and innovation in business.

And it has a great shop.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.