A big day today in the history of our precious planet - it is estimated by the UN that today is the day we cross the threshold of 7 billion people alive on Earth. Admittedly the science is a little fuzzy on how exactly to count 7 billion people, but let’s assume that they are right, plus/minus even a month or two. The pace of population growth is quite remarkable.
In 1804, we reached 1 billion. It took until 1960 to get to 3 billion people. Then the population exploded. 4 billion in 1974; 5 billion in 1987; 6 billion in 1999 -which brings us to today.
The scale of humanity’s need for better design cannot be understated. Globally and locally, the services of much of the design community have not served most of the population. The good news is that there is a movement to shift these paradigms. The Rural Studio at Auburn University is a model many schools are now trying to replicate - students doing great design at little cost. Public Architecture continues to encourage the design professions to give a simple 1% of their time to pro bono design. Their former Executive Director, John Cary, is curating a discussion about the movement at www.PublicInterestDesign.org . The recently launched IDEO.org is striving to partner IDEO’s approach of human-centered design with the people who need it the most. Project H Design is incorporating design into education.
7 billion people is clearly a milestone - and one with uncertain consequences as growth continues towards 9 billion by 2050 (slowing a little). The scale of solutions can and must vary - what matters is that the design community begins developing them more quickly and more responsibly.