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.

Watch the interview on Comedy Central’s website.

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-goals6This week, Ashton Kutcher triumphed over CNN in a race to amass one million followers on Twitter, winning the privilege to donate 10,000 anti-mosquito bed nets to combat malaria. The choice of prize may sound bizarre, but it is perfectly timed for the upcoming World Malaria Day on Friday, April 25. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, and more than 80 percent of infections occur in Africa. At $10 per net, the 10,000-net pledge amounted to a $100,000 donation from Ashton to charity Malaria No More, headquartered in New York City. In addition, Ashton has garnered similar pledges from other celebs including Oprah and Ryan Seacrest, reporting a total of $1 million to buy 100,000 nets at last count.


20090419-ashton-donationThe news is actually better than most know. Many, if not all, of the donated nets will be Olyset Nets, profiled in a January post here on CbD. They are:

  1. the best-designed nets currently available, which can kill mosquitoes on contact and last up to 5 years instead of only 5 months
  2. produced by A to Z Textile Mills in Tanzania, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating the country’s economy.

Malaria No More cited benefits of malaria prevention beyond saved lives on its blog: malaria prevention leads to

  • a more productive work force
  • reclamation of 25% of a family’s income usually devoted to malaria treatment
  • reclamation of 40% of Africa’s health expenditure that can be redirected from malaria to other high-priority issues like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and water safety.

Other celebrities to lend their support to the fight against malaria include Kiefer Sutherland, who appeared in a somber message during this season’s 24: Redemption on Fox calling upon viewers to donate nets. Malaria No More has rallied many other famous names – American Idol contestants, UK’s Gordon Brown, Dave Chappelle, Bono – to the goal of distributing bed nets to 100% of those who need them by December 31, 2010.

20081227-the-goals7We just saw Benjamin Button which reminded us of 2 things close to our hearts…Brad Pitt and New Orleans.

20090102-built-to-last1150 homeowners in a still-devastated district of New Orleans get to choose from 13 customizable design models for new homes built for LEED Platinum certification and for withstanding storms. With a cradle-to-cradle lens guiding materials selection, the materials are not only to be made from sustainable resources but also intended to biodegrade if the houses ever do need to be intentionally destroyed. The first six houses were tested this August by Hurricane Gustav in the final stages of construction, and not a window was lost.

The model designs and pricing subsidies are funded by the Make It Right foundation, jumpstarted by a $5 million personal donation matching pledge by Brad. All models feature open porches – a nod to Southern culture and community – and five-foot elevations – to guard against inevitable floods. The house prices are $150,000 or less, and subsidized if this exceeds 30% of the deed owner’s income.

20090102-built-to-last2This is an example of how celebrities can use their clout to super-boost world-changing efforts. So far, 88 of the 150 homes have been fully sponsored. You can donate as little as $5 to help the 88th house get from $2,939 funded to $150,000 funded. The donation site is cool – you can virtually tour the house and see how much is needed to sponsor each feature, like solar panels or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Brad fell in love with the city during the filming of Interview with a Vampire (1994), was devastated to see its destruction in Hurricane Katrina (2005), campaigned to film Benjamin Button there in 2006 to boost its economy, launched the Make it Right campaign in 2007 to support its rebuilding, and bought his own home there with Angelina Jolie in January 2008.