Category: Accessibility

The Prime washbasin lands on TV

There is no greater satisfaction for a design studio than seeing its products in use and visible in everyday life. Even more so than sales. This is the case of the Prime washbasin, selected by the RAI production for the television series ‘Lea – Un nuovo giorno‘ developed over 4 episodes. Designed by Francesco Rodighiero, it respects the principles of Design for All and has obtained the Quality Mark released by the Design for All Italia Association.

The construction of the set involved the installation of three countertop washbasins with mixers chosen and suggested by the washbasin manufacturer. Goman actually supplied the elements requested by the manufacturer, which we thank for their courtesy.

We can assume, almost with certainty, that the choice of the product is attributable not only to its functional characteristics. But also for the desire not to use particularly characterising and stigmatised hospital washbasins, which are very common in various facilities in Italy and abroad. It is all the more pleasing, therefore, at least to think that there was an idea to present a bathroom with innovative and expressive Italian design elements.

Design for All, Wikipedia: an incorrect definition with no solution

Design for All, Wikipedia: an incorrect definition with no solution.

Since several years, some members of the Design For All Italia Association have tried to revise the Wikipedia article that can be read online. Despite various attempts, the proposed changes are not accepted and a profound misunderstanding remains. Comparing or matching Design for All with Universal Design is incorrect precisely because they are profoundly different design approaches. Universal Design, Design for All, Inclusive Design, Human Centered Design, and many other design methods, work in the same direction: improving the quality of life and autonomy, empowering users, even if each has its own specifics and shared characteristics.

The official definition, which you can also find on this website with the appropriate insights, from the Stockholm Declaration of the EIDD of 2004, is the following:

Design for All is design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality. This holistic and innovative approach constitutes a creative and ethical challenge for all planners, designers, entrepreneurs, administrators and political leaders. Design for All aims to enable all people to have equal opportunities to participate in every aspect of society. To achieve this, the built environment, everyday objects, services, culture and information – in short, everything that is designed and made by people to be used by people – must be accessible, convenient for everyone in society to use and responsive to evolving human diversity. The practice of Design for All makes conscious use of the analysis of human needs and aspirations and requires the involvement of end users at every stage in the design process.

It seems immediately obvious that the 7 principles of Universal Design cannot be compared to Design for All, but rather to some principles of contemporary ergonomics. While on the one hand we are talking about a holistic approach and therefore about the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge, on the other hand we are talking about respecting and applying a list of indications in order to be able to make the project fall within a discipline. Moreover, Design for All involves the end users and all stakeholders in the development of the project, while Universal Design does not make explicit the participatory aspect, and even less the respect for the dignity of individuals.

The Design for All Process

On this last point, Design for All is becoming more and more up-to-date and has anticipated by several years what is now referred to as co-design. The results of the Design for All process, in this way, are extremely more refined because they are able to collect and analyse expressed and submerged needs, trying to find one or more suitable solutions. We will return to the importance of the process and how it can be applied in practice in another article.This is necessary in order to motivate the involvement of the actors, not merely passive to validate the project, but encouraged to contribute their experience and creativity.

Project for disabled people, people with disabilities. It’s not a matter of language.

Project for disabled people, project for people with disabilities.

Apparently it may seem to be a matter of language. Current language and its forms of application remain as an expression of culture, degree of civilisation, way of thinking, and level of attention. Some contemporary authors, indeed, define human language as an instrument of thinking.

The Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities

Following an evolutionary process of current language that always tends to improve also in relation to the respect and sensitivity of individuals, the choices made by important government institutions such as the UN with the “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” are evident. Persons with disabilities is the term officially used by the Italian State, in all likelihood in order to focus attention on the person and not on the pathology or physical condition.

This choice and this expression, when it’s in relation to or accompanied by the project, supports its innovative and contemporary meaning (from the Latin: pro in advance jacere throw; what is thrown in advance). Moreover, providing design services, products, or anything else for the disabled or differently abled is almost an oxymoron: what can improve quality of life, autonomy and the right to access and use is opposed by respect for people.

Even more than architectural barriers, then, it’s cultural barrier that can have a major social impact on the disciplines and manifestations of human activity. The ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) had already laid the foundations for revising certain paradigms: “Disabilities are the result of the interaction between people affected by physical and mental impairments, the obstacles posed by the environment and the behaviour of others that prevent effective and full social integration on the basis of a principle of equality between men.”

Once again, Design for All is more far-sighted and discreet when it comes to human diversity, including in relation to desires and ambitions.

What’s Design for All – An interview with Francesco Rodighiero

I was recently given a series of very relevant questions to fully understand Design for All and how it can be useful when applied. This is a short interview that tries to take the full picture and provide a starting point for those who want to explore the topic further.

Francesco Rodighiero

1. What’s Design for All? How do you mean it?

The Stockholm Declaration of 2004 leaves no space for misunderstanding and defines Design for All as “[…] design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality. [..]”. On a more personal level, I use the principles of DfA so that products for people with disabilities have the same treatment as products in the classic world of Design.

EIDD© Stockholm Declaration, 2004

2. How do you design a product following the principles of Design for All?

Projects are always inspired by observation, research and, above all, by the client’s expectations. Design for All is useful for me to have a lot of attention to the broader user base: traditional design often designs for abstraction considering the standard man. In reality the standard man doesn’t exist, but is actually a complex system of diversified abilities, sometimes disabilities, and above all desires and aspirations.

discover our Design for All projects

3. Do you also benefit from the relationship with other designers?

In Studio Rodighiero.Design I’m lucky to have an engineer father who supports me in some technical solutions, the products for people with disabilities must respect the capacities and therefore stresses and strains of several hundred kg. On the other hand I have an architect brother who helps me to consider and contextualise the products within refined and contemporary environments. I consider myself lucky.

4. How has “barrier-free” design evolved over the years?

Certainly, in the last twenty years, much more attention has been paid to architectural barriers, even if they only solve part of the “problem”. Making a museum accessible doesn’t mean making the exhibition accessible to everyone. Just think of the visually impaired people… In this way, it’s better to have an inclusive approach like DfA and the removal of architectural barriers a subset of the design process.

5. Are you satisfied with the evolutionary path of design?

Yes, if I could see even great designers and archistars designing in an inclusive way….

6. What, in your opinion, are the aspects that deserve more attention in the future?

The aging of the population and its longevity are factors that cannot be ignored. And today’s elderly are people who do not want to feel like that, they’re connected to the web and technologically educated thanks to mobile devices. In this context, the dignity of people will be increasingly relevant. We can’t afford anymore to design assistive devices with a hospital feel, and, more generally, to put on the market products that are difficult to understand and use.

7. How do you think about Goman‘s vision regarding Design for All? Do you have new projects in the pipeline?

Extremely noble. There are very rare companies that take risks by proposing innovative and inclusive products that, in their sector, can be disruptive and unusual. It takes courage and determination. From the gratifying sales results of Prime and the selection for the Compasso D’Oro ADI, we are taking the opportunity to develop, together with the R&D department, a new project that takes full advantage of the latest successes.

Design for accessibility and beauty

1. It works but I I don’t like it therefore I won’t use it.

2. Design for the real people. Problem solving is not enough.

3. A multitude of solutions: research is needed to not reinvent the wheel.

4. The dignity as unknown unquantifiable.

Once more Design for All, after several decades, it is still the best approach for the design. Unlike other approaches, many born recently, it gives priority to the dignity of persons. “Design for all” pushes constantly toward a more sensitive design thinking which allows a better final result often winner.
In some cases, even, it’s hard to see the inclusive qualities of the project and it becomes part of most common design context. There is then the possibility to turn a solution in a gadget, an accessory into a decorative moment. Is this little?

Vedi altri progetti di Hackability

5. The solution: Design for All + Poetry = Bingo

In 2015 in a lecture about Design for All at the Politecnico of Milan Avril Accolla talked about an exemplary project on how “inclusion” can be developed within a project. The inclined square of the Oslo Opera House: a project that makes people to talk about it and maybe even discuss but the core meaning was elsewhere.

6. Design tips

  1. Talk and get opinion from different people (see Hackability, it’s a statement).
  2. Do a long and thorough research of the products and of existing solutions.
  3. Start from the system and change it according to the context and user needs.
  4. Design as if you are designing for yourself or for the best client/company.
  5. Remember that the human body is a tool and each part can help you.
  6. Do not ever try to hide or camouflage the product, sometimes visibility can be an advantage..
  7. Remember that disability is variable and customization is important.
  8. Use the technology that is more useful.
  9. Do user testing with real end users: from them you’ll receive the best insights.
  10. If you can, make your project Opensource.

I sincerely thank Prof. Luigi Bandini Buti, teacher and friend. Much comes from peaceful dialogues and difficult discussions.

Francesco Rodighiero

Many thanks to Manu Zeta for the translation. Without her, I’ll be lost.

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