We Are All Human

If you start by focusing on poverty, it means that you are focusing on and are biased by inequality. If we instead focus on people first and their commonalities, then we can instead focus on and be biased by equality. 


At the core of this thesis is the belief that every person on this planet is a human being. That there are fundamental human needs and desires that unite us all. It is the responsibility of the designer to discover what those needs are and to properly satisfy them through a great product.


Instead of focusing on our mutually exclusive qualities, we can and should focus on our mutually inclusive qualities. 



Examples of great design for everyone

Here are some good examples of what happens when designers remember that we are all human

These designs simultaneously embrace desires and constraints, minimize resource inefficiencies, optimize value, and dignify everyone


A portable water filter straw. Instantly filters water using no electricity, UV power, chemicals, etc. Can be used effectively by rural communities or adventurers.

4.7/5 star rating on Amazon out of 2,990 customer ratings. Available for $20. 


A highly affordable pedal-powered washing machine and dryer. It requires no electricity and is highly portable. This is a major improvement over manual washing methods.

This is a very practical solution for remote villagers, apartment dwellers, and campers.

Concept design & functional prototype. 

BioLite Campstove

A highly portable, electricity producing, and highly efficient wood burning cookstove for use in camping or developing world contexts. The BioLite cookstove weighs 2lbs, runs on twigs, and produces electricity to charge USB powered devices.

4.7/5 star rating on Amazon out of 112 customer ratings. Available for $130. 




One World Futbol

A new type of indestructible soccer ball developed in 2010 by Tim Jahnigen and funded by Chevrolet. The ball is self-inflating, never needs to be pumped up, and consists of an extremely resilient foam material.

In limited global distribution. Buy one give one for $40.

Expanding on the 4 Principles of Great Design for Everyone


Create a solution that embraces and satisfies constraints & desires. It must be simultaneous. One cannot ignore the other.


Start with a systematic analysis of the product. Use first principles to reinvent problematic aspects. 


Provide the maximum functional, social, and emotional value for a minimum initial investment and low long-term maintenance cost.


We are all human. Do not discriminate based on geography, culture, or economic status. A homeless person and the President should be treated equally.

Simultaneously create great designs for rich and poor:

Simultaneously pursue what appear to be competing interests between the Top 10% and Bottom 90% users in order to discover new things, simplify the problem, and finally arrive at the core values that make us all human. It can be a difficult process but, one with great humanitarian and financial rewards. 


Combine the right mindset with the right techniques:

A great designer will never assume someone will automatically want their product. A great designer knows it is a combination of the right strategies and techniques in an iterative process that helps them arrive at a solution that will have a positive effect on people's lives.


Keep perspective in mind by using a few numbers:

By definition, there are 9 times more people in the poorer bottom 90% than the top 10%. No matter how rich the top 10% get, they won't buy nearly as many phones as the bottom 90%. Companies like Apple and Samsung cannot ignore that massive potential.  

Discover first principles in order to solve complex problems:

Instead of reasoning by analogy, comparing what you are working on to what you already know, reason by what Elon Musk calls first principles. Instead of using analogies, use a greater level of mental energy to "boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there".

Optimize value like a mathematical equation

Providing products at the lowest price possible is not the most important thing for poor consumers. The Finnish have a saying that “poor people can’t afford cheap things”. Rather than "cheapness", quality and value performance are often the most important factors in the decision making process for consumers regardless of economic status or geographic location.


No one wants a shitty product.

The most misleading proposition is the notion that offering a useless product or service for free to people in crummy situations will save the world. 

Question your assumptions and build something that matters.