Design solution

December 8, 2011

On 17 October 2011 some of the design community’s most innovative thinkers gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York to celebrate the opening of Design with the Other 90%: Cities. The exhibition investigates how design can address the pressing challenges created by rapid urban growth in informal settlements, commonly referred to as slums.

Included among the 60 projects from 23 countries on display is Rolex Laureate Elsa Zaldívar’s pioneering work in producing strong, lightweight, low-cost building panels using renewable and recycled materials. A long-time activist for social change in her native Paraguay, Zaldívar’s passion for protecting the environment and helping the poor led her to experiment with mixing loofah sponges with other recycled and waste materials to create building materials for low-cost housing.

More than 500 guests attended the October 17 opening and heard from Cooper-Hewitt Director Bill Moggridge, Kiyo Akasaka of the United Nations, Heather Grady of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian.

“Cooper-Hewitt is delighted to present this free exhibition at the United Nations, where visitors from all over the world will be able to see how design can address the most critical issues in developing and emerging countries,” Moggridge said.

© Rolex Awards/Jess Hoffman

Presented by Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the exhibition runs until 9 January 2012.

Learn more about Elsa Zaldívar

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