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June 1st, 2010

FOR SALE: Our road show trailer, 1972 Airstream


Now that our adventure is over, we’re hoping the spirit of the design revolution will live on… And so, our 1972 Airstream trailer, 27-feet long, with pink stripe, open plan, bedroom space, and 30 of the 40 products featured in the exhibition, is now UP FOR AUCTION on eBay! Delivery is available within the continental US. Whether you’re an Airstream aficionado or design fan, this one’s for you…


May 25th, 2010

A big thank you to all…


Matt, Junebug, and I would like to give a final shout-out to all the schools, students, educators, funders, designers, family members, friends, RV park owners, kind souls, crazy passers-by, Subway veggie delight sandwich makers, sturdy Ford truck parts, Airstream lovers, press entities, and massage therapists who made our trip not just possible, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience. THANK YOU for the support, in whatever form, however small or big. We’ll see you next time around (or via email or Skype, as we’re done driving for a while).

May 21st, 2010

Recap: Finale at ICFF in New York with Metropolis


After stops at 36 schools, we added one more to the list: a grand slam finale at the enormous International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Javits Center in New York. We said yes to the final event for two main reasons: 1) Metropolis Magazine would be hosting our trailer in their booth (Metropolis Books is our publisher, and we just love Metropolis in general for being such inspiring supporters for the past few years), and 2) ICFF is where this whole adventure was set in motion. In 2008, I spoke at ICFF and met Diana Murphy after my talk. She was interested in the material, and also happened to be the editor of Metropolis Books. Project H was 4 months old at the time and I had just returned from 2 of our first projects in Africa. Fastforward to August 2008, and I had signed a book contract to write Design Revolution, which then inspired the road show. We owe a lot to Diana and the whole Metropolis team, and we were thrilled to close out our adventure in style as their ICFF booth.

With Diana Murphy, my book editor!

On May 14th we shimmied the beastly trailer into the Javits Center, which takes up about 8 square blocks and every year is filled with thousands of exhibitors and hundreds of thousands of visitors. ICFF brings about 22,000 visitors each year (we estimate bout 10,000 went through the trailer). After negotiating with the Union guys about the best way to get the trailer in place, we were good to go for a grand opening the next day, May 15th.

Over the next four days, thousands of people visited Metropolis’ booth and walked through the trailer, including David Byrne, one of our musical heroes! We only had one hiccup: the Subtle Safety ring was stolen on Sunday, but we tweeted the crime to our 70,000 files and hope the perpetrator will be shamed into sending it back or at least into never wearing it for fear of reliving the immorality of such an act :)


My one comment about ICFF, which I have every year, is that it seems odd that such an event even still exists. Amidst all the conversations of responsible, life-improving design that minimizes waste and maximizes opportunity, ICFF (and trade shows in general) produce a ton of waste, require tons of transportation for people and goods, and use an immense amount of electricity and other resources to make it possible. While ICFF highlights great work and continues to be an event I don’t often miss, it felt like an odd juxtaposition to be talking “revolution” in such an antiquated gathering (isn’t the trade show SO 20th century?).

At the end of the four days, we shimmied the trailer OUT of the Javits, which involved a forklift, about 10 Union guys, and Junebug looking on from the truck window (see video below). We hit the road, thanked our friends for housing our temporary home, and took to the open road once again, this time headed to rural North Carolina, which we would soon call home. A special thanks to Kim, Eve, Mason, and Susan from Metropolis Magazine, and the show producers GLM for the financial and organizational support in getting us there.

Hauling the Airstream out of ICFF 2010 from Emily Pilloton on Vimeo.

May 18th, 2010

Lovely video by Sappi / Ideas That Matter

One of our sponsors, Sappi’s Ideas That Matter grant program, just finished putting together a beautiful video about our adventure. Thanks to Arvi Raquel-Santos and team…

April 19th, 2010

An encore appearance at ICFF in New York this May!


While our scheduled road show adventure has now come to a close, we are THRILLED to announce an encore stop at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), May 15-18. Metropolis Magazine (our book publisher is Metropolis Books) will be hosting our Design Revolution Road Show trailer as part of their exhibition booth at the Jacob Javits Center on the West Side during the well-known design trade show, so if you missed us on the road, come on down and check out the trailer. This will be our last stop before making the move to Bertie County, North Carolina to teach Studio H, where the Airstream will likely be renovated yet again into a mobile fabrication lab. I’ll also be doing a quick book signing on the 15th at ICFF at noon, outside the trailer.

The closing stop at ICFF with Metropolis is actually the perfect bookend to our adventure, as it began in the exact same spot two years ago. It was at Metropolis’ one-day conference event at the ICFF where I met Diana Murphy, editor of Metropolis Books, who was interested in my lecture material as potential book concept. Two months later I was signing a book contract and had 90 days to write Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People.

Metropolis Magazine has been one of our die-hard supporters from the beginning. Metropolis’ editor, the legendary Susan Szenasy, was in fact one of the people who inspired me to pave my own way and launch Project H in the first place (I remember a particular meeting with her over coffee). In fact, Susan wrote her Editor’s Note in this month’s issue about our road show, in support of our “Traveling Activism.” Read her piece here.

Long story short, we can’t think of a more perfect way to end our adventure. Hope to see you all in New York in May for the big finale.

Get all the details here.

April 18th, 2010

Recap: Oberlin, April 18th


Today was our LAST STOP on the road show! We added Oberlin to our itinerary recently, and were thrilled to be there as part of their conference, hosted by their Creativity & Leadership group. Many of our friends and colleagues are Oberlin alum, from Ralf Hotchkiss who designed the Whirlwind Wheelchair, to Tom Kelley of IDEO, and Peter Nicholson of Chicago’s Foresight Design Initiative (and my former employer post-grad school!).


We headed into the lecture at 1:30, during which I presented the history of Project H and our 6-value process (We design through action; We design with not for; We design systems not stuff; We document, share, and measure; We start locally and scale globally; We build). One of the questions to follow centered around the need for a “clearing house” of sorts, by which designers with great ideas could partner with a group like Project H to see their projects through production and implementation.


After the lecture we headed out to the trailer and were joined by a few people who were not in the lecture. In particular, a mother and her three young girls stopped by, and I spent about 30 minutes explaining everything to them from Y Water to the solar panel that powers our lights.


I also debated design education with Peter Nicholson, and we agreed that transdisciplinary collaboration was lacking, and that there was a need for “multi-lingual” designers who could function as creatives, businesspeople, anthropologists, and more. I have always believed that all designers should be double majors, or at least minor in something outside of design, as the best design exists as a tool for non-design disciplines (design for education, design for policy, etc).


We were also joined by a local bookseller who had copies of Design Revolution on hand, and I signed a few copies for visitors. A big thank you to Lauren Abendschein for helping us organize a very successful last stop!

April 18th, 2010

Daily Postcard: April 18th

Breakfast in Oberlin, heart in the cloudy sky

April 18th, 2010

Quote From The Road: April 18th

When: April 18th, 8:23 a.m.
Where: Reading an interview online, over coffee in Mansfield, OH

Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines: “We have a strategic plan, it’s called doing things.”

April 17th, 2010

Daily Postcard: April 17th

Junebug devours a stick on our second-to-last day on the road!

April 17th, 2010

Quote From The Road: April 17th

When: April 17th, 11:38 a.m.
Where: Main Street, downtown Wilmington, OH

Mark Rembert from Energize Clinton County: “I don’t think you can do humanitarian work at a global level, because you can’t see people as humans when you’re looking that broadly. It has to happen locally because people are committed to a place.”