Designing For The Other 90%

Designing For The Other 90% Image

Most of the designs in the contemporary world cater to that very specific 10%. This is especially relevant in context with product design in general. Understanding the class position of the target user is extremely important, especially if you want your product to be successfully marketed. The design for the other 90% is aimed at creating opportunities for the people – especially migrants to cities – and is a culminated effort of communities, architects, designers and public organizations that offer affordable designs in the form of urban planning, affordable housing, informal education, entrepreneurship and more.

The Basic Concept Of Designing For The Other 90%

The idea of this movement is to create opportunities for that other 90% statistic of people that have limited access to the basic amenities of life. Approximately 5.8 billion people have little to no access to some of the most basic products and services that many take for granted. These include food, water and even shelter. This movement is all about exploring alternative methods to provide these amenities to these people in a cost effective way with the help of local and global organizations.

Waterwheel By Wellowater

The Pioneers Of This Other 90% Movement

The other 90% movement is led by designers of all kind – engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs. Each of them tackles the problem from a different aspect. The strategy may differ but the goal remains the same – to increase the access to food, water, energy, healthcare, revenue and education in an easy and cost-effective way. This movement is for those who are underprivileged and in need, bought to them by the educated and inspired. Each day, there are more and more initiatives that are providing solutions for the underserved in developed countries all over the world.

The Origination

This movement originated in the late 1960’s and took momentum in the late 1970’s. The main reason of its successful take-off was because designers and economist of the time began to look for simpler, more cost-effective solutions to this wide-spread problem.

What Is Sustainable Design? image
What Is Sustainable Design?

Even now, designers all over the world are working directly with the end target-audience of their products. This emphasizes the process of co-creation with respect to the actual needs of the people.

Breakthrough Results

The major projects that are making headway in the name of the other 90% movement have been employing market principles for income generation to get away from poverty. This means that the rural farmers are becoming micro-entrepreneurs while small industries are popping all over the urban landscape. Some of these break through are more locally governed while others are set for organic mass-consumption – it all depends on the strategy or design.

Lifestraw By Vestergaard Frandsen


Designing for the other 90% is a large and challenging task. It strives to increase social inclusion, and better the economy, quality of life and general amities to those in need.



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