Beauty: The 8th principle of universal design?

Liz Jackson on stage wearing black and using a purple caneDesigner Liz Jackson from New York, tells her story in a video talk of how she became known as the woman with the purple cane. She has a theory that when parents tell their children not to stare at someone who looks different they take this behaviour into adulthood. In a straightforward manner she laments how designs for people with disability are so often ugly. She critiques the seven principles of universal design for not including beauty in the list; focusing only on functionality. And that every design designs for exception because there will always be someone left out. This 15 minute talk is well worth the time. If you can’t access the video there is a full transcript on the site.  

Wall banner saying The essence of universal design lies in its ability to create beauty and mediate extremes without destroying differences in places, experiences and thingsEditor’s note: Aesthetics are mentioned in the fuller length of the seven principles of universal design. This quote from Bill Stumpt and Don Chadwick, points this out: “The essence of universal design lies in its ability to create beauty and mediate extremes without destroying differences in places, experiences, and things”. However, it seems that if designers only ever look at the short list of principles, an eighth principle should be added – Thou shalt make it beautiful!




Digital predictions for 2018

Front cover of report. Dark blue with white tect.What will the digital world have for us in 2018? How much should we worry about artificial intelligence (AI), fake news, and new devices and social media services? Nick Newman sought out the views of various tech people and provides insights and ideas for 2018. Some might cause concern, but there is also some good mainstream tech stuff that can assist almost anyone. For example, hearables: Amazon Glasses with bone-conducting audio that links to Alexa and a smartphone. What about ear buds that offer instant translations from other languages? How will we know our news feeds are real news and not fake? Perhaps instant fact-checkers will help us decide. For a fascinating overview of what we can expect in journalism, social media and technology, see Nick Newman’s report.

Editor’s note: While some technology will be great for everyone (universal) and create more independence and inclusion, we still have to watch out for designs that exclude.


Access Consultants’ Newsletter: A focus on play

Front Cover of the magazine showing a girl in a power chair in the Port Macquarie ParkThe latest issue of the ACAA Access Insight Newsletter has a focus on play spaces with two articles and a review of a report on Livvi’s Place at Port Macquarie. The report is the result of research by the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University. One of the findings is that a well designed inclusive play space can become a visitor attraction – a destination that can be added to the list of local tourist attractions. Nick Loder writes a thoughtful piece on culture change for design with a focus on housing standards and universal design. World Braille Day and some technical advice on the size of accessible public toilets also feature along with general association material for members. It can be read online or downloaded in PDF.


Designers! Call for workshops in Limerick

Logo for the conference in bright pink with white wavy lines and white text for the call for papersThe Design Research Society’s next conference is set for 25-28 June 2018 in Limerick, Ireland. The call for Workshops and/or Conversations closes 15 February 2018. There is an inclusive design track: Designing for Diversity; Inclusive Design as a catalyst for change?  The conference seeks to go beyond disability, ageing and physical accessibility to include fields that have not previously received much attention, for example, neurodiversity, mental health, and obesity. 

The conference home page says “Design shapes are daily lives, influencing how we interact with each other and with our environment. When at its best, design is a powerful catalyst for change. DRS2018 Limerick, invites designers to explore these relationships across an exciting four day conference from 25th-28th June 2018”.


9 Big Design Trends for 2018

An abstract pattern of muted blue and orange squares of different sizes.Mark Wilson has posted an article on the FastCoDesign website about the role of design and designers going forward. He says that 2017 has felt like a year where people in positions of power have been revealed “to be a total dirt bag”. Also, data was stolen from everywhere and that is no good for designers either. So what can designer do differently for 2018? Wilson has asked designers for their thoughts: political-oriented design will emerge, inclusivity will go mainstream, AI will take off, digital will no longer be the centrepiece of a brand, and what consumers value will change. And there is more. It’s a long read, but very thought provoking.


I wish I’d thought of that before..

A picture of an older woman with the words: My kitchen will be all white. I love this trend. Followed by, That what she said when chose her home decor. Now her mother can't find the light switches.The link to the Lifemark webpage, Choose Universal Design has some good short messages with nice pics about universal design – from the perspective of, “it seemed like a good idea at the time!” The one pictured here says, “My kitchen will be all white, I love this trend. This is what she said when she chose her home decor. Now her mother can’t see the light switches and turn the light on! CHOOSE UNIVERSAL DESIGN”



Kitchen remodel with universal design

Picture of a large kitchen with lots of storage and an island bench at two heights. There is a second sink lowered and with access underneathWhile the design and build remodel blog site is a commercial venture, it provides some good tips for things to think about when fitting a new kitchen. Learn the Characteristics of a Universal Design Kitchen Remodel emphasises both functionality for the whole family and aesthetics. Space, Layout, Doors, Traffic Patterns, Workstations, and well designed fittings are all covered – that includes lighting. There are links to three more blog pages. Thanks to Lifemark NZ for this one.