Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Design comes of age

A report from the design industry believes that increasingly consumer products are embracing ‘universal design’ - the idea that places and products should be accessible, ergonomic and transgenerational (what a great word!).

These designs should have uncluttered layouts with comfortable, intuitive controls requiring minimal effort to operate. Much of the thinking behind ‘universal design’ was used in the US disabilities legislation

It would seem, at least in the US, that the increasing focus on ‘universal design’ comes in response to the importance of the 50 plus consumer. As people reach retirement, along with the one in five Americans suffering some level of disability, they will require technologies that fit their needs. Does this mean that the shampoo in hotel rooms is going to have large fonts on the labels? Joking aside - well I was not really joking - the are some examples of where design is being influenced by the needs of the older consumer. For example the OXO Good Grips kitchen tools were developed for arthritis sufferers and the Duracell packaging of hearing-aid batteries with their break-off tabs. It is hard to find many others. Has anybody got any other good examples?

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