“By the People: Designing a Better America” at the Cooper-Hewitt

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There’s an interesting piece in the New York Times about this show at the Cooper-Hewitt, a Smithsonian museum devoted to design in NYC. The Times describes the show as being about “the intersection of poverty, prosperity, innovation, and design.” This description is interesting because of how it dovetails with some of the discussions we’ve been having about how engineering innovation is the always connected to social context–which means those innovations communicate something about their social contexts. Your Unit 1 innovations convey that connection, either explicitly or implicitly.

 

Many of the innovations presented in this show straddle the lines between art, engineering, and commercial product. One of the innovations is a pedal-powered tractor designed with Farm Hack, an open platform that encourages crowd sourcing. The point of both the tractor and Farm Hack seems to be community building, even if it comes at the expense of efficiency.

 

There are plenty of interesting, thoughtful, and even controversial innovations in this show, as well as in an early show, also at the Cooper-Hewitt, called Design for the Other 90%.

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