Look here: Kitchen lighting refocused

A modern kitchen with a bowl of fruit in the foreground and a stove and microwave in the backgroundDoug Walter writes in ProRemodeller magazine about new research in kitchen lighting. He says, “Most kitchens are woefully underlit. Lighting is often an afterthought, yet even when it’s carefully planned, designers and lighting experts often don’t agree on which lamps work best in particular fixtures and where those fixtures should be located.” It seems housing standards aren’t much help and it is left up to the kitchen designer or the homeowner to work it out for themselves. The article offers practical and technical advice about lighting the kitchen so you can see what you are doing, safely and conveniently. 

Lighting is of particular importance to anyone with low vision – even people who wear glasses need good light to make sure the work-space and benches are hygienic and safe. And more light isn’t always better if it produces glare.  

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Advances in design for inclusion – book

Front cover of the book: yellow background with dark blue text.This book is practice-orientated and covers many fields of design.The overview of this publication states, “This book focuses on a range of topics in design, such as universal design, design for all, digital inclusion, universal usability, and accessibility of technologies independently of people’s age, economic situation, education, geographic location, culture and language. … Based on the AHFE 2016 International Conference on Design for Inclusion, held on July 27-31, 2016, in Walt Disney World®, Florida, USA, this book discusses new design technologies, highlighting various requirements of individuals within a community. Thanks to its multidisciplinary approach, the book represents a useful resource for readers with different kinds of backgrounds and provides them with a timely, practice-oriented guide to design for inclusion.” You can download the promotional flyer or go to the link allows you to download the Table of Contents.

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Universal design for apparel products

Picture of a rack of dresses in all kinds of fabric designsHow can clothing design be inclusive and allow individual expression at the same time? Design for many, design for me: Universal design for apparel products reports on a study examining just that question. The article begins with an explanation and application of UD principles and then provides two case studies. Slow Design and Thoughtful Consumption enter the discussion as well as the concept of co-design. It is good to see clothing design joining the UD movement.

Abstract:  This study examined the potential of universal design in the field of apparel. The particular purpose of the study was to explore the use of the concept and principles of universal design as guidance for developing innovative design solutions that accommodate ‘inclusivity’ while maintaining ‘individuality’ regarding the wearer’s aesthetic tastes and functional needs. To verify the applicability of universal design in apparel products, two case studies of design practice were conducted, and the principles of universal design were evaluated through practical applications. This study suggests that universal design provides an effective framework for the apparel design process to achieve flexible and versatile outcomes. However, due to product proximity to the wearer, modification of the original definition and principles of universal design must be considered in applications for apparel design.

You can see another article on this topic.

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Integrating art, healing and wayfinding

A boy sits on a chair and in front of him is a giant heart shaped apple sculpture with red hearts and other bright colours on it.Healthcare environments are under the design microscope now that there is a growing body of evidence to show how design is linked to well-being. The SEGD website has three interesting examples showing how art reduces stress for everyone, including staff, and improved clinical outcomes. The design project manager for the Seattle Children’s Hospital said, “It’s important to understand that hospital environments are places where people live”. The three examples are:

  1. Integrating Art and Wayfinding: Seattle Children’s Hospital
  2. Community and Storytelling: Antelope Valley Medical Center
  3. Empathy and Engagement: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
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Kitchens and older people

3 pictures of kitchens used in the study. One shows a china cabinet, the next a step ladder and the third an ironing board More than any room in the house, the kitchen needs to be a place where tasks can be done easily and efficiently. Kitchens are also an important area for social interactions during meal preparation and clean up. As people age, more thought needs to go into kitchen design to overcome issues such as reaching, bending, grasping and holding. However, this should not mean a complete kitchen renovation if these issues are considered in the original kitchen design.

Kitchen Living in Later Life: Exploring Ergonomic Problems, Coping Strategies and Design Solutions is the result of research from different disciplines in the UK. As an academic paper there are some technical references, but the reports of the interviews with older people are quite revealing.  Reaching and bending caused the most problems, as well as grasping and lifting. Lighting was also an issue, especially for reading the small print on packaging. The article proposes solutions, some of them related to rearranging things for ease of use.

As kitchens in the UK include a washing machine (there are no separate laundry areas in the home) the research extended to laundry tasks. Ironing proved to be the most difficult. An interesting study, particularly as we can all relate to both good and bad kitchen design and fitout. This is especially the case with, say, a broken wrist, or slipped disc, which can happen to anyone at any time.

Related topics are kitchen appliances, and the work at the University of Cambridge Inclusive Design team and their online Inclusive Design Toolkit. 

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Get me out of here!

Green emergency egress signs showing running figure and wheelchair figureEmergency evacuations are tricky at the best of times, but when you find steps and stairs difficult or just impossible, what do you do? According to Lee Wilson in Sourceable magazine, Australian building legislation has generally steered clear of promoting the use of refuge areas in commercial buildings. The preferred method of evacuation for people with mobility difficulties is a fire rated evacuation lift. However, this is a costly solution and therefore not widely adopted. But the refuge area hasn’t been properly adopted either. Read Lee Wilson’s article for the Australian regulatory situation, and how Australia fares with other nations and their accessible means of access. Also go to the link at the end of the article about individual workplace PEEPs (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans). They play an essential role in emergency situations.

Photo credit to Loughborough University  

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Kitchens for all time

Picture shows a long island bench with white drawer cupboards and a timber benchtop. It has a low section attached to the front of the bench with a knee hole with two child sized bar stools. The knee space could just as easily suit a wheelchair userA well designed kitchen is essential for all members of the household. Participating in food preparation is important part of everyday life in many cultures. So anyone who wants to join in with meal preparation should be able to do so. While the Consumer Report website article was published in 2015, many of the ideas are still current. Storage, work spaces, sinks and taps, lights and power outlets, flooring, doorways and handles, appliances, cookware and utensils are all covered. The information is presented with minimum fuss and lots of pictures.

With a growing trend to update kitchens every 12-20 years, renovation time is the best time to think about the usability of the kitchen into the future. You can see more from the Lifemark article on usable kitchens.  For a more academic approach to kitchen design you can download A Systematıc Approach for Increasing the Success of Kitchen Interior Design within the Context of Spatial User Requırements.

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