Emily Pilloton wrote Design Revolution, a book about 100-plus objects and systems designed to make people's lives better. In 2010, her design nonprofit began an immersive residency in Bertie County, North Carolina, the poorest and most rural county in the state.

Why you should listen

As a young designer, Emily Pilloton was frustrated by the design world's scarcity of meaningful work. Even environmentally conscious design was not enough. "At graduate school, people were starting to talk more about sustainability, but I felt it lacked a human factor," she said. "Can we really call $5,000 bamboo coffee tables sustainable?" Convinced of the power of design to change the world, at age 26 Pilloton founded Project H to help develop effective design solutions for people who need it most.

Her book Design Revolution features products like the Hippo Water Roller, a rolling barrel with handle that eases water transport; AdSpecs, adjustable liquid-filled eyeglasses; and Learning Landscapes, low-cost playgrounds that mesh math skills and physical activity.

In February 2009, Pilloton and her Project H partner Matthew Miller began working in Bertie County, North Carolina, the poorest and most rural county in the state, to develop a design-build curriculum for high-school kids, called Studio H. In August 2010 they began teaching their first class of 13 students. Read about their experiences in Design Mind.

What others say

“... the work means something, and every day we feel that something positive is happening, whether or not we can put our finger on it. ” — Emily Pilloton in Design Mind

Emily Pilloton’s TED talks

Emily Pilloton on the TED Blog

Design

New TED Book: Tell Them I Built This

December 7, 2012

In 2009, author Emily Pilloton moved to Bertie County, North Carolina — the poorest county in the state with a population of just 20,000. There she and her partner Matthew Miller launched Studio H, a design and build program meant to engage the creativity of high school students while bringing design innovation to the area. […]

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