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'Why design now?' explores ways to solve problems with innovative design.

Solving problems with sustainable – and beautiful – design is the focus of a new exhibition in New York.

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The ecoefficient Oslo Opera House, in Norway, combines open communal public space with waterfront access.

Photo Courtesy Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

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Timothy Prestero designed a baby incubator for hospitals in the developing world that could be made cheaply from Toyota truck parts. Mallory Taub and fellow students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created an inexpensive, easy-to-build dome using locally made bricks. John Todd's Eco-Machine, in use in more than 100 locations, provides a sustainable alternative to traditional wastewater treatment, a natural system that's not only practical but beautiful.

Visitors exploring the wide-ranging "Why Design Now?" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City are likely to come away in awe of how designers such as these are employing their creativity to become 21st-century problem-solvers.

This year's triennial, the fourth in a series that appears every three years at the museum, breaks new ground by going beyond the work of US designers, highlighting 134 projects from 44 countries.

IN PICTURES: Designs from "Why Design Now?" at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

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