When someone says, “Now, that’s the good life,” they’ve usually just sat back, put up their feet and taken their first swig of a cold beer on a sunny Friday afternoon. A good life, however, is another thing altogether, and not just grammatical hair-splitting between indefinite and definite articles. A good life can mean getting safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. Or, Kenyan girls having a homemade soccer ball to kick around. Or, a little indoor garden for senior citizens who can’t get out anymore to tend their plants.
When Parsons The New School for Design in New York came up with the idea of "A Good Life" for their senior thesis BFA product design program in 2003, the concept was to merge ethics and design in a hands-on way. Students collaborate with not-for-profit organizations of their choosing in designing products that address the needs of the people these organizations are helping. For instance, when Romi Hefetz created her senior thesis for Doctors Without Borders in 2004, the organization needed containers that could transport safe water without risk of contamination from airborne bacteria, fatal to the region’s high percentage of HIV/AIDS-affected population. Hence, she designed a plastic stackable container called the Aqualoop, sized and shaped for women and children, and most importantly, equipped with an angled spout and special valve that attaches only to safe water sources regulated by UNICEF and the Red Cross.