Cooper-Hewitt exhibit, Design for the Other 90% opens in Mercy Corps global headquarters

November 5, 2009

Exhibition featuring affordable design solutions for the world’s poor on display through February. Dr. Paul Polak, influential in the development of the exhibit, will speak Thursday Noveber 12th at 7:30pm.

Portland, OR — Two and a half years after it debuted at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Design for the Other 90% comes to Portland. The exhibit will be on display on the ground floor of the building shared by Mercy Corps and The Lemelson Foundation, a LEED Platinum-certified structure in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood.

Design for the Other 90% is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays. The exhibit will be a part of and housed in the Mercy Corps Action Center at 28 SW First Ave and will be on display through February 2010 before continuing its journey across the U.S. and Canada.

The exhibit, which was created by Cooper-Hewitt with support from The Lemelson Foundation, highlights the growing trend among designers to develop low-cost solutions that address basic needs of the poor like clean water and shelter. Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 5.8 billion people, or 90%, have little or no access to the products and services we take for granted. Design for the Other 90% features more than 30 works that demonstrate how design can be a dynamic force in transforming and, in many cases, saving lives. The exhibit is divided into sections focusing on water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation.

“Mercy Corps is thrilled to have to opportunity to bring Design for the Other 90% to Portland and put it on show in our new headquarters in Old Town,” said Julie Mancini, Executive Director of the Mercy Corps Action Center. “This exhibit has a perfect synergy with the work Mercy Corps does around the world. It will provide visitors of the newly opened Mercy Corps Action Center a look into how design can work in conjunction with humanitarian work to improve the lives of people around the world.”

Dr. Paul Polak, founder of International Development Enterprises and author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, was influential in the development of the exhibit. The Mercy Corps Action Center will host Dr. Polak who will discuss practical ways to attack poverty at its roots on Thursday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. Enter through the Mercy Corps Action Center at 28 SW First Ave. For more information please visit:

Upcoming events related to Design for the Other 90% in Portland include a December lecture by Sergio Palleroni, a local architect, professor and Fellow at the new Center for Sustainable Practices and Processes at Portland State University; as well as a Design for the Other 90% teacher training in January.

Nationally, funding for Design for the Other 90% was provided by The Lemelson Foundation, public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; the Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund and the Ehrenkranz Fund. More information about the exhibit is available at

The exhibition in Portland was made possible by The Lemelson Foundation; Bart and Jill Eberwein; John and Jane Emrick; Glumac Engineering; Gray Family Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation; Hoffman Construction Company; Art Johnson; KPFF Consulting Engineers; Gary Maffei and Marc Lintner; McKinstry Construction Corporation; Meyer Memorial Trust; Lindley Morton and Corrine Oishi; Dan and Tracy Oseran; Mark and Judy Peterman; Vesta Corporation; Wieden + Kennedy; and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects.