Read a great, hard-hitting review of the Cooper-Hewitt show over at Design Observer, written by David Stairs. Here's a snippet:
Is there a realistic response designers from developed countries can offer? A starting point might be to recognize that in many cases, we don't need to remake other people or their societies in our image and likeness. The idea of design intervention--sustainable or otherwise--may feel very intrusive to people who are still reeling from 150 years of colonial intervention. (You don't just waltz into a patriarchal society and aggressively advocate equal opportunity for women, or deliver pumps and boreholes to peasant farmers without understanding the sociology of migratory herdsmen). Living among other people and learning to appreciate their values, perspectives and social mores is an excellent tool of design research. (To their credit, both Polak and Fisher have spent considerable time abroad, not just user-testing, but living and working with their client-partners.) Education is also a wonderful access point, as is a required second language. But how many design curricula are supporting, let alone implementing such global initiatives?