Design with the 90%

Practice Area


Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center

Project Vision

This exhibition celebrates design as a process, a way of thinking, and an approach to solving a problem—and the important role design can play in addressing critical human problems. Through the lens of design and inspiring objects, the exhibition appeals to broad audiences who might not otherwise visit the Discovery Center or engage in topics related to the Gates Foundation mission and work.

Studio Mattnews designed a flexible system to accommodate a wide range of projects, including an eclectic mix of artifacts, materials, imagery and key statistics. Projects range from a coffee-grinding bicycle to eyeglasses with liquid-filled lenses that can be adjusted on the spot.

DESIGN BY YOU challenges visitors to use design thinking and participate in a hands-on design challenge. They pick from a selection of issues—e.g., transportation, education, housing—and brainstorm a solution with their own Design Toolkit. The Toolkit—a set of cards on a keyring—allows visitors to think through exactly what criteria they want to focus on when approaching their design challenge: Sustainability? Cost? Visitors sketch or describe their solution and share their idea on social media using a custom hashtag. Each visitor can take their Design Toolkit with them for use on other projects.

The design is entirely comprised of sustainable, recyclable materials that are still robust enough to last through the nine-month-long exhibition. Design provocation posters create a framework for the diversity of projects. Vitrine bases are made from industrial cardboard and fullyrecyclable panels. The oversized black and white hanging images for the exhibition are printed on Tyvek and will be converted into carrier bags by the design team and donated to the Gates Foundation Discovery Center.

Project Details
Design Team

Kristine Matthews (lead designer), Ian Campbell (senior designer), Jeffrey Underwood (designer)

Project Area

1,500 sq ft


Aleen Adams (curator of exhibits, Gates Foundation Discovery Center), Cynthia E Smith (curator of socially responsible design at Cooper Hewitt)