A modular cycle designed by Cape Town-based design and innovation firm … XYZ Design to help solve the transport needs of rural communities in South Africa, is included in the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition which opened in New York on 15 October. The exhibition is run by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and this year it is being held at the United Nations in New York in a partnership with the UN’s Academic Impact global initiative.
Industrial designer Roelf Mulder of … XYZ Design led the team that developed the modular bicycle and cart as part of an InterDesign workshop on Sustainable Rural Transport – Technology for Developing Countries, held in South Africa. The workshop was endorsed by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) and the national Department of Transport provided funding for the development of prototypes.
The modular bicycle and cart were designed to be easily and cost-effectively modified for use in remote areas where people have little access to motorised and public transport. It was designed for easy assembly and maintenance without any specialist skills or equipment required as part of a strategy to deliver rural transport infrastructure and services that can help catalyse sustainable economic development and improved access to services and economic opportunities for under-served areas.
The promotion of Design with Other 90% reflects a growing pre-occupation among designers with design’s capacity for solving social problems. Traditionally design served 10 % of the population; hence its hitherto elitist status. But this has changed in the 21st century in tandem with the huge leap in growth of cities around the globe – as designers increasingly submit design to the service of development and seek to work with under served communities to find effective, affordable and appropriate solutions to their needs.
The Cooper-Hewitt’s “Design with the Other 90%: CITIES” exhibition series aims to demonstrate design’s capacity for addressing “the world’s most critical issues”. Projects and products displayed focus on designs informed by poor communities and address issues such as alternative housing, low-cost clean water accessible education initiatives, sanitation and solid-waste management, transportation solutions, innovative systems and infrastructure, and urban design and planning. Putting people at the centre of design is imperative in a Design with the Other 90% approach. This approach includes communities in the development of design solutions through participatory or co-design processes.
Featured image source AAP NYC