In January of 2008, with a thousand dollars, a laptop and an outsized conviction that design can change the world, rising San Francisco-based product designer and activist Emily Pilloton launched Project H Design, a radical non-profit that supports, inspires and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design. “We need to go beyond ‘going green’ and to enlist a new generation of design activists,” she wrote in an influential manifesto. “We need big hearts, bigger business sense and the bravery to take action now.”
Featuring more than 100 contemporary design products and systems–safer baby bottles, a high-tech waterless washing machine, low-cost prosthetics for landmine victims, Braille-based Lego-style building blocks for blind children, wheelchairs for rugged conditions, sugarcane charcoal, universal composting systems, DIY soccer balls–that are as fascinating as they are revolutionary, this exceptionally smart, friendly and well-designed volume makes the case for design as a tool to solve some of the world’s biggest social problems in beautiful, sustainable and engaging ways–for global citizens in the developing world and in more developed economies alike. Particularly at a time when the weight of climate change, global poverty and population growth are impossible to ignore, Pilloton challenges designers to be changemakers instead of “stuff creators.” Urgent and optimistic, a compendium and a call to action, Design Revolution is easily the most exciting design publication to come out this year.
Emily Pilloton is the founder and Executive Director of Project H Design, a global industrial design nonprofit with eight chapters around the world. Trained in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and product design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Pilloton started Project H in 2008 to provide a conduit and catalyst for need-based product design that empowers individuals, communities and economies. Current Project H initiatives include water transport and filtration systems in South Africa and India; an educational math playground built for elementary schools in Uganda and North Carolina; a homeless-run design coop in Los Angeles; and design concepts for foster care education and therapy in Austin, Texas.
Allan Chochinov is Editor in Chief of Core77.com, and writes and lectures widely on the impact of design on contemporary culture.