We were delighted to see Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H Design and author of Design Revolution, appear as a guest on the Colbert Report last night. The highlight of the interview was the rousing response from Pilloton’s call for a new measure of success according to “the triple bottom line: Planet, People and Profit”.

Pilloton chose excellent visual aids to show Colbert how design can improve lives. Selected from her book, Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People, Colbert walked to the interview table wearing Spider Boots, donned a pair of Adaptive Eyewear, and marveled at Pilloton’s ability to move 200 pounds of water with the ease of a “very, very suspicious flight attendant” using the beloved Hippo Water Roller.

The full episode is below. Sorry for the off-color freeze frame! We didn’t choose it, we promise.
Or to watch just the exact 6 minutes of Pilloton’s interview, view this clip directly on Hulu.

Here is Josh Silver’s 5-minute presentation of the optometrist-free glasses at TEDGlobal 2009 in July. In it, he explains that he is 30,000 on the way to putting glasses in the hands of one billion people by 2020. As with many humanitarian designs, the foremost obstacle he faces is bringing down the $19 cost of each pair. He is an atomic physicist by day, which just goes to show anyone can be a humanitarian designer.

20081227-the-goals3In a recent interview with Hippo Water founder Cynthia Koenig, we learned a bit more about the recent re-design of the Hippo Roller. It was a dream experience for this blog.


The challenge

Traditional water transport

  • In third-world countries, women and children must haul water over long distances in order to supply their communities with clean, safe water.
  • Alternative sources like wells are only functional 6-8 months of the year, and well pumps are unreliable or fuel to power them can be difficult to obtain
  • The first version of the Hippo Roller multiplied the hauling capacity of a single person but the cost of manufacturing and shipping them limits the number of people they can impact.
  • Hippos are currently manufactured in South Africa but are needed in other countries such as India and Siberia.

Enter Project H Design and Engineers Without Borders
Emily Pilloton took interest in the Hippo challenge and began with fundraising for a “Hippo drop” – the term for a distribution of Hippos to a community – as the founding project for Project H. During the Hippo drop the designers visited the Johannesburg manufacturing facility and identified an opportunity for design improvements.

Project H partnered with Engineers Without Borders’s Appropriate Technologies’ Design Team and split into two teams: one focused on reducing cost in any way, and one focused on playing with the inherent design of the device. We find the Flickr photos of the design process to be fascinating. Here are a few of our favorites:


One meeting asks, "What do men do?", considering the social cause for women and children needing to do the hauling.
One meeting asks, “What do men do?”, considering the social cause for women and children needing to do the hauling.

Presentation of concepts using current water containers for transport
Presentation of concepts using current water containers for transport

The most viable options progressed to 3-D modeling with design features called out.
The most viable options progressed to 3-D modeling with design features called out.

The compact nesting size of the final designThe final solution was to break the hippo in 2 for nesting.final hippo
The final design

The next step: India
These redesigned hippos need a new passport stamp! See below to learn how one click – your vote – can send Hippo Water to India. Today is the last day to vote!