Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition opened last week at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to large crowds and international press. The exhibition’s location provides a unique opportunity to connect numerous stakeholders, including design professionals, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, academics, those in the public and private sector, and the general public.

During my field research I found the most successful projects were those that developed from a reciprocal design exchange between residents living in the informal settlements and designers. There are close to 1 billion living in informal settlements throughout the cities in the global south. A number that is expected to grow to 2 billion in 20 years as people are pushed by changing climates and conflict; or pulled by the desire for work and more freedom. Many local municipalities cannot keep up with this rapid urban expansion so it is critical that good ideas and designs can be shared with those migrating to these urban areas. The display of design projects and proposals at the UN, along with the CITIES website, design blog and Design Other 90 Network seeks to expand the conversation about how design role in improving peoples’ lives around the world.

To further this design exchange over the next months, while the exhibition is on display at the UN, individuals and organizations whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects with an aim to broaden the dialogue raised by the exhibition and to highlight other important work, projects, and ideas.

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