I returned to The College of Richard Collyer last week to review progress in our competition “Designing for the Future” which requires students to design products which meet one or more of the challenges of ageing.
In all, around 70 AS level students have entered our competition and if this visit is anything to go by, we will have around that number of unique designs to judge next month. Good to see so much innovation.
I was also delighted to see that the students had embraced the brief so readily – the most thoughtful designs came from those who had spoken with their older relatives about the realities of ageing, something which must seem almost unimagineable to this group of 16 year olds.
I was helped out in my duties by Holly Sheppard, a product design graduate who was fitting in some work experience before starting teacher training. Her previous work has been for children. I am hoping to persuade Holly of the benefits of designing for an ageing population. In fact, perhaps all young designers should, as part of their training, be required to design or redesign one everyday object to make sure we all have the right tools we need as we get older.
Next month I am joined at Collyers by judges Denise Stephens, co-founder of Enabled by Design and previous winner Harry Trimble who is now in his final year at the University of Brighton. Together we will attempt to select one winner and 5 runners up from the finalists selected by tutors Kate Sharpe (Faculty leader – Arts and Communications) and Hari Atkins (Subject Leader – Product Design, Materials). Watch this space!
Hexus TV, the technology internet channel, has posted a great review of the fabulous Trabasack which give you a good idea of its size, features and versatility saying : “In one of those “why didn’t someone think of this already??” moments, the Trabasack combines the bag and cushioned lap tray for your laptop”
Watch here : Trabasack review
Trabasacks make great Christmas gifts – buy yours here
June now seems a long time ago but this extract from a comprehensive report by fellow presenter, Duncan Edwards of Trabasack fame, recently published in THIIS magazine, is an essential read for anyone interested in inclusive design in the UK today and concludes with some important insights for manufacturers and retailers.
On 17 June, this year Equip-able Ltd sponsored and participated in the first event held by the founders of the website www.enabledbydesign.org. With much excitement , my wife, Clare Edwards, and I headed along the bustling riverside of the Thames with a suitcase full of Trabasacks to the imposing building of the London Design Museum.
The location of the event was well chosen with terrific views of Tower Bridge during the breaks and bracing fresh air, despite it being London! There were also two fascinating design exhibitions to visit after the very good buffet lunch. The event itself was, as might be expected, a model of considered accessibility with all the talks being signed and many friendly ‘Helpers’ on hand to assist anyone who needed it. Attendees were encouraged to ‘tweet’ during the event. That is, to update what was happening or report interesting quotes using the web service Twitter via their mobile phones. Throughout the event ‘tweets’ were broadcast to interested non attendees and afterward comments could be collected and displayed as a live event blog for everyone. There are also videos of some of the speakers available at www.enabledbydesign.org as well as other guest blogs giving viewpoints of people who attended.
Denise Stephens, co founder of the community website www.enabledbydesign.org, introduced the 120 attendees to the day. Denise explained how after being diagnosed with MS she had become frustrated with the assistive equipment she needed to use. She had found that because of the medical look of many healthcare products, her home was looking more and more like a hospital and this was making her feel more depressed about her illness. She had found that some products on the high street, for example, an IKEA stool, could be used instead of the perching stool suggested to her by an OT. The IKEA stool worked just as well but fitted in with the look of her home better than the clinical design of a perching stool.
Denise Stephens was inspired to launch the Enabled by Designwebsite to find like minded people who could share the products that they found worked for them. In doing so, she has created an online community of people who are passionate about the products that help them live an easier life. By sharing their loves, hates and ideas on the site, the ‘Enabled by Design-ers’ are challenging the one-size-fits-all approach to assistive equipment, and championing clever modern designs. She also hoped to promote her passion for ‘Design for All’. This is a design philosophy targeting the use of products, services and systems by as many people as possible without the need for adaptation….
Denise explained that rather than focus on impairments we should concentrate on people’s abilities and the products and services that can help support them to live independently. Also by making mainstream products useable by as wide a range of people as possible, it helps to remove any stigma attached. This is something that we have tried very hard to do with Trabasack. That is, make a product that is useful to people of all abilities and thereby reduce any feeling of “don’t want this but I have to buy it because I am disabled”.
Wayne Hemmingway MBE
Despite Wayne having originally no formal qualifications in design or architecture he has built a career on his innate feelings for designs that work for people and society. Originally building up ‘Red or Dead’ from one stall on Camden Market to a multi-million pound company he now heads Hemingway Design and has been honoured with numerous professorships and doctorates.
He discussed the KiosKiosk project. An idea that reflects his own commercial beginnings at an indoor market. The KiosKiosk is a low cost mobile shop unit that moves a few inches each day to avoid planning and other regulations. This moving shop space is rented to young and aspiring would-be retailers who would otherwise be unable to test their products and reach customers on the High street…..
He is now keen to have an impact on architecture and believes we have been ‘building the slums of the future’ by filling our inner cities with 1 and 2 bed flats and rather than mixed dwellings that share social spaces where communities and social links can develop.
The presentation by Julia Cassim who is Senior Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art followed. Julia worked in Japan and was the designer and curator of award winning exhibitions for audiences with visual impairments and learning disabilities. On returning to the UK in 2000 she organised the DBA Inclusive Design Challenges. These challenges partnered disabled people with professional design teams in live design projects for the mainstream market.
Julia discussed the demographic changes in society and the importance of inclusive design for companies. She stated that if you add the percentage of people with a disability to the percentage of older people in our population, you now have the majority. Older people are also becoming more technology and product literate. So called ‘Yoyo’s (older bodies, young minds), people like Stephen Fry and Madonna, are becoming powerful influencers of what products are seen in the media. Manufacturers should ensure that their products are able to be enjoyed by everyone.
Julia’s design challenges have shown that redesign with disabled peoples input can lead to innovation. The DBA Design Challenges were inspired by examples from history, such as the typewriter, that was first created for someone who couldn’t hold a pen….
Other highlights included :
Antonia Hyde, web designer and consultant and Kath Moonan, accessibility consultant who discussed the importance of making websites easy to navigate and understand for people with different disabilities. She stressed the importance of deciding to make a website accessible early in its design rather than attempting to fix it later. The cost of improving it being far greater than getting it right initially. More information can be found at www.abilitynet.org.uk
Kate Monaghan producer of ‘Are you having a Laugh- Disability and Television’
Kate’s humorous talk showed clips from the recently screen BBC 2 programme about how disability has been portrayed over the last 40 yrs and her experience as a wheelchair user. She said that the majority of television is still made by white middleclass non disabled men and disability is underrepresented on screen. She made this point by estimating that Coronation St should have 5-6 disabled people featured. The ‘moral universe’ is a viewpoint perpetuated by television. That is the idea many people have that “I’ve been good, it will never happen to me”. This is found throughout literature and frequently in Shakespeare. Bad characters always have a disability such as a hump or facial disfigurement. In James Bond , since 1962 with Dr No and his two false hands, the criminals have always had a disability. Alternatively disability is shown as a punishment for doing wrong, which is a popular theme in soap operas such as Eastenders. She said it was important to challenge these ideas with positive, representative programming.
Thought provoking and direct, Charles Leadbeater suggested that the way we provide services to people, needed to be ‘with’ them, and not ‘for’ them. Charles a former government advisor to Tony Blair and he argues that participation, rather than consumption or production, will be the key organizing idea of future society.
He discussed the shift in society where things that were done ‘by’ or ‘with’ us and are now done ‘for’ and ‘to’ us and that when things were done ‘for’ and ‘to’ us they were often unpleasant and unwanted. He said that this shift was happening in justice, health, politics and education.
We are schooled to believe that the ‘end justifies the means’ and that it is outcomes that matter and the way that outcome is arrived at is not important. Outcomes such as consumer satisfaction or shareholder value are all that is deemed to matter.
However the ‘means’ are not just tools to reach the outcome. There is a choice on how the outcome is arrived at and that is by doing something ‘for’ people or ‘with’ them, and that the outcome arrived at is totally different in each case.
He illustrated this with a story of an Aids clinic in Nairobi. At the clinic the women when the women were told that they were pregnant and HIV+ they were encouraged to safeguard their baby against developing the virus by using drugs. The researchers at the clinic could not understand why the women would very often not use the anti-viral drugs they were given. ..The solution was found by using other HIV+ mothers as mentors. By pairing up the women and creating links and networks of mothers a ‘with’ solution was found to work. That is older mothers would work ‘with’ younger mothers, instead of medics doing it ‘for’ them. Now the “Mothers to Mothers” scheme that helps 200,000 African women per month has a disease transmission rate of 20%. He summarised how much more successful the results are from of working with people, rather than doing things for them.
The ‘We are Enabled by Design’ event was the probably the most thought provoking and inspiring that we have been to. It was a very creatively and thoughtfully organised and this atmosphere brought out the best from the participants.
Some key lessons for manufacturers and retailers are:
- Engage with customers for product development, people with disabilities are expert users and innovators
- Produce something that is inclusive and it will be easier to use and more widely adopted in the mainstream
- Products for general use will increasingly be made for everyone lessening the market for specialist products for particular impairments
- Website accessibility is extremely important in healthcare and should be considered at the earliest opportunity
- If you want to encourage participation in your projects and campaigns, there are now many new online social media tools to facilitate it.
Duncan Edwards – http://twitter.com/trabasack
Reproduced from THIIS magazine (where a full copy of the report can be found) – the trade magazine for the homecare industry – http://www.thiis.co.uk Photos via inter alia Enabled by Design.
Perfect for people who love to cook but need some extra help to lift the saucepans.
Perfect for the stylish woman who knows the value of looking after her back.
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A pocket size present at a pocket sized price which is perfect for the keen traveller
Perfect for organising every family’s important documents
Give someone the gift of easy bathing this Christmas
The perfect present for the keen gardener. Easy storage too.
This nifty weeder will help any gardener tidy their plot. And its blue tint helps it stand out in the garden making it more difficult to lose!
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Having launched our original and innovative product range in November 09, we continued to add exciting new products throughout the year including the Culti Cave, Many Happy Returns 1940s, the Trabasack and not forgetting our best selling handmade double handled teapot!
We ran one great competition with the University of Brighton and are just kicking off another with the College of Richard Collyer. We have been asking students to design products which not only address the challenges of ageing but also look good. And we have been spreading that message wherever we go, most notably by speaking at the “We are Enabled by Design” conference at the Design Museum in London.
We were delighted to win the Best New Business Award in the West Sussex County Times Business Awards and to be finalists in the Southern Business Awards.
We wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for everyone’s support over the past year – to our customers, family, friends, suppliers and designers, guest bloggers (including Howard Croft, David Edwards, Catriona Watt, Ronnie Fox) and our increasing numbers of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. And also to the people and businesses which have helped us on our way including Cambertown, Fridays and most particularly our web designers, Jumpstart Interactive .
To help us celebrate, we are giving everyone who makes a purchase between now and Christmas Eve the chance to win one of our fabulous teapots.
Here’s to the second year!
The Future Perfect Company
The Guide covers planned and unplanned hospital admissions, managing your finances and benefits, being in hospital, the discharge process and what happens when you get home.
Well worth a look if you or someone you care for is about to go into hospital.
For a free copy of the Guide, click here
There is another useful leaflet called “Helping you through a hospital stay. Advice from older people” which contains, amongst other things, a useful checklist of what to bring into hospital. Click here to download a copy.
By popular demand, we are giving you the chance to win one of our lovely handmade double handled teapots which was featured in Design Week.
Brimming with character, this teapot, made especially for The Future Perfect Company by Reckless Designs, has a useful second handle by the spout, making it easier to pour. Designed to complement the double handled mugs made by the same potter, this teapot is hand made and hand painted, making every one unique.
Just buy any of our products between now and Christmas eve and we will automatically enter you into a draw to win a teapot. Simple. And best of luck!