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.

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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.