How does design solve everyday problems?
How does design solve everyday problems?


From the chair in which you’re sitting to the town in which you live, everything around you is the result of the work of designers. Some of it is successful and some of it isn’t, but it all exists to fulfill human needs. Curator Ellen Lupton and educator Caroline Payson look at the ideas behind cutting-edge household items, from a glow-in-the-dark electrical cord to a camera for the blind. Discover how designers came up with these wild ideas and how you and your class might follow their lead.

Access Recording
Join the Discussion
Technical Check


Ellen Lupton is Curator of Contemporary Design at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, where she has helped organize exhibitions including Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office, Skin: Surface, Substance + Design, Feeding Desire: Tools for the Table, and the National Design Triennial series. Lupton is also director of the Graphic Design MFA program at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the author of numerous books for designers.

Carolyn Payson, the Director of Education at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, has an extensive background in arts education. As the director of educational services at Maryland Public Television, she oversaw a $10 million grant to create “Thinkport,” an online, interactive education super-site for the state of Maryland. She has also led a number of education initiatives using interactive and web-based resources to improve reading instruction, distance learning courses, and school curricula. Payson, a former chair of the liberal studies department of Parsons School of Design, holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins’ Writing Seminars program and a bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College.