About a year ago, two design students named Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You traveled from their homes in Los Angeles to Cerro Verde, a 30,000 person slum outside of Lima. As students in the celebrated Design Matters program at Art Center College of Design, which focuses on social innovation, they had come to Cerro Verde as part of a special studio called Safe Agua Peru. Their goal? Develop a commercial product that alleviates issues related to water poverty, targeted at people who earn between $4 and $10 a day.
The students spent two weeks in Cerro Verde, working closely with inhabitants to prototype “co-created” products at a break-neck speed. Since returning, nearly half of the students have won International Design Excellence Awards, and a student-made documentary about the trip called Hands in the Mist has been shortlisted for a Young Directors Award at Cannes. Cabunoc and You’s design—a manually powered washer and dryer that costs less than $40 called GiraDora—has drawn special attention.