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Museum of Design exhibit eye opening
by Bobby Tedder
June 12, 2014 11:05 AM | 2037 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
Museum of Design Atlanta exhibitions manager Katie Simms stands in a demo shelter for the homeless built by The Mad Housers.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal Museum of Design Atlanta exhibitions manager Katie Simms stands in a demo shelter for the homeless built by The Mad Housers.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal
From left, MODA exhibitions manager Katie Simms and director of membership and programming Clare Timmerman look over foot models on display in the '3D-Printing for Surgical Practice Templates' exhibit designed by Dr. Nicholas Giovinco and Freeside Atlanta.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal From left, MODA exhibitions manager Katie Simms and director of membership and programming Clare Timmerman look over foot models on display in the '3D-Printing for Surgical Practice Templates' exhibit designed by Dr. Nicholas Giovinco and Freeside Atlanta.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal
MODA's Katie Simms checks out the miniature models that are part of the display on zero energy housing design.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal MODA's Katie Simms checks out the miniature models that are part of the display on zero energy housing design.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal
MODA's Katie Simms demonstrates a universal nut sheller, a hand-cranked machine used in 22 countries.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal MODA's Katie Simms demonstrates a universal nut sheller, a hand-cranked machine used in 22 countries.
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Change by design — potential and realized — is cause for celebration within the halls and galleries of the Museum of Design Atlanta in Midtown.

The venue’s original “Design for Social Impact” exhibition, running through Aug. 3, is essentially a nod to ideas conceived, crafted and executed for the betterment of others here and abroad.

Of particular interest are concepts dedicated to those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic spectrum.

“At MODA, we believe everyone should have access to good design,” said exhibit curator Katie Simms. “And it’s exciting to see all these projects addressing problems in the world and providing really high-quality design services to people who may not have access to them — the homeless, refugees [and others].”

The expansive showcase — nine months in the making — can be considered a sampling of the feats-in-progress of contemporary designers.

Patrons of the museum have a bevy of visually enticing yet creatively informative exhibit pieces to view. A solar water pump, infant phototherapy device and innovative anti-human trafficking poster collage are among them.

Said Simms: “We’re really just hoping to raise the awareness of design as a methodology for solving problems and to raise awareness for all of the great work that’s featured here — to hopefully draw some attention, particularly some of the local projects … these wonderful things are going on right here in Atlanta.”

Count the Mad Housers demo hut among the local innovative design models given the design spotlight treatment.

The organization has erected scores of shelters for the homeless like the 6-foot by 8-foot wooden structure on display at the museum around the metro area since the ’80s.

“[‘Design for Social Impact’] is an awesome exhibit,” said Mad Housers President Nick Hess. “People need to realize that one of the promises of modernity was that functional design isn’t just for the people who could afford it — the 1 percent. It’s for everybody.”

Like the Mad Housers project, another exhibit darling — the Safi Choo toilet — was also designed by Georgia Tech alums.

“It’s a toilet system for use particularly in refugee camps, but anywhere where people are basically using holes in the ground,” said Simms.

In keeping with the theme of the exhibit, the Safi Choo section is accentuated by a factoid featuring the problem that inspired it: one in three people live without access to basic sanitation, according to a UNICEF report.

Just as the Safi Choo model was designed to address health and contamination issues, Mad Housers shelters are built to give its homeless clientele a clean, dry, warm space to inhabit — a locking door allows them to leave their possessions inside.

Both ideas illustrate Hess’ larger point.

“[Design] can be not just for us upper- or lower middle-class people, but for people who really need it,” he said. “So it’s really good to see that design isn’t just pointed upward, but all around.”

IF YOU GO:

o What: "Design for Social Impact"

o When: through Aug. 3

o Where: Museum of Design Atlanta, 1315 Peachtree St., Midtown

o Tickets: $5 to $10

o Information: www.museumofdesign.org
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