In a nutshell, a completely sustainable nutshell, the idea behind Design for the Other 90%, a traveling exhibition from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, has to do with the impact of good design on developing populations who must usually make do with no help from the design community at all -- in other words, the other 90 percent. Divided into six themed verticals focusing on shelter, energy, water, health, transportation and education, the exhibit shows ingenious, sustainable design solutions to the most basic human problems and goes on to intimate why more designers should be taking this route, rather than providing services for only the ultra-rich. That's the educational part of the show, and it's a good visual and informational part. But in addition, RedLine riffs on the theme by presenting its own correlating exhibit of installations and artworks by Ian Fisher, Bob Koons, Virginia Folkestad, Theresa Clowes, Thomas Evans and Viviane Le Courtois. That would, for instance, include a Junk Mail Shelter by Le Courtois, who began shredding junk mail and then painstakingly forming the shreds into bricks three years ago. Le Courtois says sixty or more friends and acquaintances contributed to the project by bringing bags of their junk mail to augment her own supply; inside the shelter, she's even built a junk mail bed and is considering sleeping in it at some point during the exhibit. As for some of the others, Fisher contributes a jarring painting of the Gulf Coast oil spill, Folkestad a conceptual work made from plastic bags and Koons a mind-bending comment on global warming, consisting of three periscopes with confusing views of the water level.
"There's an idealism embedded in the exhibition that art intrinsically challenges, which brings a bit of sobriety to the exhibition," says RedLine director P.J. D'Amico.
Design for the Other 90% opens tonight at RedLine Gallery, 2350 Arapahoe Street, with a reception from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The show continues through September 24 at RedLine; docent-led tours, which include a side-trip to the nearby Sustainability Park urban farm installed with examples of sustainable design, will be offered from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is $5 or $25 for a season pass that includes entry to ongoing lectures, events and cultural programming connected to the exhibit, which is presented by RedLine and the nonprofit International Development Enterprises (iDE). Each week will focus on a different vertical from the exhibit, and some of the programming promises to be both fun and challenging, from a World Cookstove Competition to the RedLine patio, which has been transformed with solar lightbulbs into a public commons under a "carnival-like canopy." For a complete schedule, visit the website.