What soccer balls have to do with blind children and water transportation in Africa.
In 2008, in the midst of the “going green” craze, San-Francisco-based product designer and activist Emily Pilloton came to the restless realization that design can be so much more than pure aesthetics, and certainly more than a mere fad — it could, with a completely nonpageantry sentiment, really change the world.
So she launched, with $1,000 from her desk at Architecture for Humanity, Project H Design — a radical nonprofit supporting initiatives for “Humanity, Habitats, Health and Happiness.”
With hundreds of international volunteer designers and 9 global chapters, Project H crusades for industrial design as a potent solution for social issues. From education in Uganda to homelessness in L.A., the project’s global-to-local model offers a tangible, truly transformational implementation of design as a change agent.
This fall, Project H is releasing Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People — a fascinating anthology of 100 contemporary design products and systems that change lives in brilliantly elegant ways.
From a high-tech waterless washing machine, to low-cost prosthetics for landmine victims, to Braille-based Lego-style building blocks for blind children, to a DIY soccer ball, the book reads like a manual, thinks like a manifesto, and feels like a powerful jolt of fire-in-your-belly inspiration.
Pilloton was recently awarded a $15,000 Adobe Foundation grant to support work on the book. Here, she talks — passionately and candidly — about the Project H mission and the very real, practical ways in which design matters.
Get yourself a copy of Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People — we couldn’t recommend it more.