For my design for production project, I asked myself the question, “Are disabled designers better suited to designing for disabled people, rather than normal designers?” From there, I decided on collaborating with two other people, an occupational therapist who works with disabled people, a person with a severe disability and also fixing a personal issue that I’ve faced. By doing this, I got a better insight into the specific needs of the user and how I could tailor make the products to suit their needs.
I set about attaching a fictional fantasy story to somewhat mundane household objects, being a broom, a doorknob and a stool. These products all have ‘bites’ taken out of them by mystical mites. It just so happens that these bites turned into a useful function, which catered for a more ergonomic use for those with arthritis. Arthritis is a condition, which over 10 million people suffer from in the UK and can be very debilitating in many cases. It might make it difficult for people to look after themselves and their property. For example, using some of the current cleaning products might cause joint pain. These bites make the product more ergonomic and so I decided on the name ErgoMites. These products are often treated as being boring objects, which represent an arduous and painful chore for sufferers, which is considered as the opposite of fun. The story instantly makes them more exciting and special to use, making them a part of the household that can be enjoyed by everyone, and removes the negative stigmatizing view that they cause pain and instead emphasises that they could be a happy experience to the user.
The RSA Student Design Awards challenges emerging designers to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues through design thinking. As a pair we worked on a brief which was to “design a way for people to increase everyday behaviors that build mental well-being.”
My idea consisted of CNC machine cut-out cogs that could be dual-use in which they could be displayed as separate dining trivets, or they could be used as an educational toy teaching Key Stage 3 and 4 children about colour mixing. It would work so that the second to smallest cog was the ratio of 1:2 of the larger cog. I was able to use this information to create fun colour-mixing palates.
I chose to look at the Masai tribe who live in parts of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. I focused in on looking at their textiles, where I made a 6ft by 4ft textile patchwork bean bag
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Having studied a product and furniture design degree at Kingston University I have always taken an interest in helping people. Born with a physical disability has made me look out at the world with a positive attitude rather than seeing it as something negative.
As a designer I believe that every individual is different and I believe good design helps people do things they might otherwise not be able to do. I see myself as an empathetic energetic peoples’ designer with the focus on working for people with impairments and disabilities at the core of my practice in a collaborative field.
Designing products suited with a topic that’s close to my heart, and kick-starting a live website which allows people/users to be included in inclusive design, has allowed me to develop an insight into how other people with varying abilities live with struggles they might face on a day-to-day basis, being able to help others through struggles that I have similarly faced brings a smile to my face because I can see how my work is benefiting others as well as highlighting a feeling of positivity all round.
I hope to develop more products that can be used by as many people as possible, whatever abilities they may have and to expand a range of products that can be used by all, and make it a FUN experience too. I do it for the enjoyment of learning and hope to develop my skills with further experience. I would see the whole experience as designing products that suit people’s personalities.