The latest exhibit from the Museum of Modern Art’s Architecture and Design Department gathers together pieces that touch upon the broad idea of problem-solving through design. Featuring products designed to address real life concerns ranging from those faced by developing nations to modern urban environments, "Born Out of Necessity" brings together devices created to remediate problems and make life easier. From futuristic prototypes for foraging to simplistic plastics that help create clean water, the works show leading designers’ innovative solutions to pressing and universal problems, like the need to live more sustainably and help underprivileged peoples.
“Born out of Necessity focuses on the problems chosen by or assigned to the designers—some of them real, concrete, and urgent, and others foreseen or designed altogether to describe possible future scenarios—their urgency removed but no less intense in the designers’ minds,” writes curator Paola Antonelli on MoMA’s Inside/Out Blog. She goes on to describe the assembled collection. “From objects that respond to pressing needs in developing countries to new solutions that are tailored to the Western urban environment, in some cases, the challenges specific to people with disabilities (the problems of a few) can offer ideas that lead to products that improve everybody’s life.”
Projecting the definite possibility of a severely overpopulated planet, the team of Dunne & Raby created three bright green fiberglass foraging devices to be used by the people of the future. An Augmented Digestive System, Tree Processor/Digestor, Grass Processor, and Algae Digester were all designed to aid future farmers, in the case of a limitation of available food. These devices help foragers sort what is edible and what is not, making sure that future people will be self sufficient and able to feed themselves.
Desert Seal is a Mylar coated pop up tent, designed by Architecture and Vision. The self-heating tent collects the sun’s rays to help heat the inside during winter months, and it is shaped to act like a funnel to siphon out hit air in summer months. The individual tents allow for dwellers to be able to stand and sit inside, and they can be folded for easy transport.
Stephan Augustin’s simplistic Watercone Water-Collection Device was designed for communities in Africa where residents must travel far to obtain safe drinking water. The cone, made from two basic parts, collects water, which is then purified through the evaporation process. The “good” water collects in the lip, and the dirt collects separately at the bottom, making it easy to pour and drink. Just a few can provide enough water for a family each day.
Homelessness is an endless issue across the world. Michael Rakowitz draws attention to the issue, while also creating a temporary shelter solution. Called paraSITE shelters, the tents are meant to attach to city grates that emit excess heat. The air inflates the plastic tent, providing both shelter and safe heating that keeps the user’s skin away from the direct source from the grate, preventing burns.
One product on display that is already successfully used in the real world is a laptop computer from the One Laptop Per Child program. The revolutionary organization brings computers to underprivileged kids in remote villages in Africa, Latin America, and more. The sleek green boarders on the computers protect the inside parts from the elements. OLPC already helps more than two million children throughout the world.
Another real-life design in the exhibit is Kosuke Tsumura’s 44 Pocket Parka for Issey Miyake’s Final Home store. The nylon slicker is fitted with pockets that can be stuffed with insulating newspapers. Tsumura’s design would be greatly beneficial to individuals living on the street, who can keep warm by adding layers of readily found paper to their coat.
Each of these innovative devices in MoMA’s exhibition show how design can help save the world of the future and today. Curated by Paola Antonelli and Kate Carmody, Born Out of Necessity is on display through January 28, 2013.