Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Modern Design for the Homeless
In the face of poverty and homelessness caused by our Government's economic and trade policies, (1), an important new market has opened up and designers are scrambling to be a part of it. This is the market created by the new class of homeless: the well-educated and professional members of society who have been disenfranchised by the "new economy". These new homeless may not have a $100 to call their own, but they have a tremendous desire for good design in their otherwise pointless, impoverished and worthless lives.
Although it is not clear who exactly would pay for these, that is a detail that everyone agrees can be worked out later. In the meantime, it is necessary and appropriate to create the designs and show the world that it can be done. That people can be poor and without hope, and still have a measure of elegance in their lives.
Presented here are some concepts in the critical areas of shelter, transportation, shopping, personal hygiene, the work environment, and self-defense in a credit economy.
1. The Portable Hotel Room
The prospective customer of this concept is someone who is taking advantage of available space, whether an abandoned or unused warehouse, factory or other covered area but wishes to feel as though he were living in a hotel. It is a reminiscence of his or her days as a successful executive when he or she flew around the country and stayed at expensive hotel rooms. Thus a tiny amount of personal dignity is preserved.
Portable Hotel Room
2. The Personal Travel and Shoppng Cart
Many have noticed that the homeless seem quite fond of shopping carts for hauling their pathetic valuables, usually rags and trash and rotting food, around. What you may not realize without having tried it, as I have, that the shopping cart is actually quite well suited for this. It is a well-balanced, sturdy, highly mobile device with many separate compartments to hold items big and small, that is easily transportable, and yet can be reduced in size and readily available in the urban and suburban environment. The design of the classic shopping cart is superb with minimalist lines and a retro feel.
But different aesthetics are certainly possible to achieve this mission of transport and storage, and here is a more modern consumer gadget-oriented approach which combines the shopping cart with portable electric transit for short distance travel. Of course the homeless person would need to find an electric outlet to plug it into, but one can invisage public charging stations for the homeless in community areas. Besides, the homeless are going to have other items they will need to charge besides this.
Travel Shopping Cart
3. Feminine Personal Hygiene
I don't feel qualified to say much about this innovation except to say that it makes good use of previously used soda bottle to provide a clean and european solution to one part of the homeless personal hygiene problem. Male users of this system may be able to use the soda bottle directly without the appliance.
4. The Portable Work Environment
As many people have pointed out, the homeless deserve their misery because they do not pick themselves up by their bootstraps and become successful just like Jerry Ford, or George Bush, or Bill Gates. (2). One way to encourage the homeless to be productive and do work is to give them a portable work area, which is one of the things that this creative design is intended for. Now the poor will have even less excuse for their circumstances.
5. Personal Defense in a Credit Economy
The cashless society is a reality for everyone, both rich and poor, and it is important for everyone to carry their credit cards safely. Since the homeless is going to be out on the street and mingling with people of all sorts, not all the same good people as you and me, one could imagine needing a personal defense solution for awkward situations. Here we have one proposed solution in a nice knife which you can keep with your credit card. And best of all, this design is available today.
Credit Card with Knife
In conclusion, I hope we have demonstrated that being homeless does not mean that one must give up all aesthetics, but that one can have a degree of good design around you no matter what your station in life. We at Global Wahrman wish to encourage this design movement and hope that it is just the beginning, a new dawn, of good design for the disenfranchised.
1. Consider: legislation to encourage Globalization, destruction of the trade unions, a legal system designed for the rich, taxes on the middle class but tax breaks for the wealthy, all of these are positive actions taken by our elected representatives which have the result of impoverishing most Americans while enriching the wealthy few.
2. The fact that these three icons of the American Dream all came from fabulously wealthy families is irrelevant.