Just inside the entrance to the National Design Triennial, at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, sits the Solvatten, a shiny, black rectangular plastic container resembling an ordinary gasoline canister. Your first reaction upon seeing it might be to wonder why it’s sitting inside a design museum; however, the nondescript package masks world-changing functionality. When the container is set out in the sun, it purifies water — no energy required. It’s not the only unlikely object in the exhibition. Climb the dark, intricately carved wooden staircase to the second floor (the museum is located in Andrew Carnegie’s former mansion, completed in 1902), and you’ll encounter the NeoNurture car parts incubator. As the name suggests, it provides life support for newborn babies, with an enclosure powered by heat-generating car headlights and a motorcycle battery. A replacement for fussy hospital incubators, the NeoNurture is intended for use in developing countries, where it can be repaired with just a little automotive know-how and readily available parts. And for when death finally comes knocking, the room next door holds the Return to Sender Artisan Eco-Casket, which is made from biodegradable bent plywood instead of potentially contaminating wood composites or PVC. As soon as it’s buried, it slowly starts to disintegrate.
more from Tim McKeough at The Walrus here.