Design Can Save The WorldBut only if it's excellentEmily Pilloton is an architect and designer, the founder of Project H, and the author of the upcoming Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People.
When it comes to designing for social impact, bad design can actually be harmful despite good intentions. And I have to say, I think I see more crap within this arena than in design in general.We're often too quick to see something that looks good and charitable and automatically call it good design. But when you're talking about health and education and water and all these really big life-or-death issues, that's where you have to be critical. There's a certain learning curve-as well as a kind of shock therapy-that we all have to go through. We have to get over our egos and realize that it's not about us designers; it's about the solutions and how those things live on within the communities that we're designing for.I formed Project H in January of 2008 with $1,000 in my bank account and the realization that while critique is important, I couldn't just sit around and complain all day. During some of our most successful projects, like the educational playgrounds called Learning Landscapes that we built in Uganda and North Carolina, I forgot that we were doing product design. I forgot that I was a designer. Because what emerged was a collaborative project based on learning and on feedback from kids, and the results were better for it.