Archive for Universal Design
I’m in Arizona for a Bosch event, which should be interesting, so hopefully I’ll have a lot to report when I return. In the meantime, I wanted to mention a piece of news that crossed my desk right before KBIS.
It’s a report from AARP regarding the rise of multigenerational households—a phenomenon that, for some of you, may not come as a surprise. According to the organization, the number of such households grew by one-half million from 2009 to 2010, with the last two years seeing the fastest increase than any other two-year period since 2000. Currently, there are more than 7 million multigenerational households in the U.S (also of interest—to me, at least—one in five adults age 25 to 34 already live in such a household).
The recession, of course, may have played a significant role in the increase. As Amy Goyer, AARP family expert noted, “More grandparents, children and grandchildren are moving in together both to save money and to take care of each other. The past couple of years have not been easy for families financially.”
AARP defines “multigenerational households” as those where three generations are living in the same home, as well as those where the householder lives with their parents or with their grandchildren. Here’s the breakdown in numbers for 2010:
• Householder, child and grandchild: 2.5 million
Given these statistics, the aging of the Boomers and the slow pace of the economic recovery, I imagine this trend will continue, making the need for Universal Design product ever more critical. Although this year’s KBIS was much smaller, it did have its share of exhibitors who are paying attention to this need.
If you’re interested in learning more about the AARP study or to download a copy, click here.
I’ll be back with a report of the Bosch event (hopefully) and a few posts (again hopefully) on ICFF, which is taking place this weekend. I look forward to the show!
Last week in Las Vegas I had the wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time with old friends. KBIS was far smaller than in years past. It was possible to “walk the show” in one day with time for lunch and a couple of coffee breaks! In my quest to find product “inspiration” I found myself in the company of folks I have been doing business with for a long time.
Long-term relationships tend to get relaxed and blurry. You stop noticing the details. Who hasn’t experienced waiting three days for a significant person to notice a new haircut? (Are those new glasses?) Vendor relationships are the same.
Rev-A-Shelf is an old friend. I haven’t done a kitchen, bathroom or laundry area in years without specifying their inserts and pullouts. And that was the problem. I had gotten laid-back. I “knew” them.
Life is what you make of it. With my comfortable significant other (who only takes 1.5 days to notice a haircut) and a desk full of deadlines awaiting me at home, I could choose to either be annoyed at this less-than-scintillating trade show—or I can choose find inspiration by looking with new eyes.
Part of Environmentally Responsible Design (my passion) is Inclusive or Universal Design. It is truly Green Design. I challenged my old friends at Rev-A-Shelf to show me what products they felt should be incorporated in an inclusive and responsible design approach. These are some of the things they showed me:
• Servo-Drive technology is available from Blum and others separately for use in any door or drawer cabinets. A light touch anywhere on the door or drawer will open or close it. Think of the possibilities not only for “goopy fingers” but arthritic ones as well. It can be programmed to touch to eliminate “dog-tail” openings.
All these items are convenient and fun for the fit and fabulous, but they are indispensable for multigenerational and multimobility level households. While I have been in a comfortable haze not seeing them, Rev-A-Shelf (and others) have been busy working on things that are important and inspiring to me! Hmmm, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at some other relationships…….is that a new haircut?
Thank you Rev-A-Shelf for reminding me that “golden” old friendships can provide the most welcome surprises.
Just a side note: Rev-A-Shelf chose to be one of the sponsors for the kick-off event at KBIS this year. It was a wonderful evening made even more so by spending it with old friends.
—Roberta Kravette, AKBD, LEED AP ID+C
I feel like I should apologize. Two weeks have passed since my return from the thrilling LivingKitchen show in Cologne. In my defense, a week’s absence has meant a week’s worth of email to read and respond to, and there’s nothing like a move (from the eighth floor to the 15th) to add a little spice to the task of putting out an issue.
Nevertheless, I wanted to jot down a few words about the show and share a few images I took while there.
First, wow. And on so many levels. Although this was not my first European show, I was still impressed by the booths, many of which showcased their wares with dramatically black walls, strategic lighting and a variety of artistically chosen and placed accessories.
Equally impressive was the amount of traffic in the three halls. The final tally, according to a post-show report, was 138,000 visitors in total for both LivingKitchen and imm Cologne, which is equal to a 38 percent increase over last year’s event. This, along with the sheer energy in the air, seems noteworthy, given this was LivingKitchen’s debut. After all, aren’t we in the midst of a global economic downturn?
And then there were the products. Yes, the cabinetry was sleek, contemporary and gorgeous, tending toward neutrals—black, white and taupe—and warm, unabashedly textured woods in natural, honey-toned finishes. If not textured, the wooden doors boasted dramatic graining oriented horizontally or vertically.
Finally, I don’t know if it was just me, but I couldn’t help noticing the wide array of ventilation products on the show floor. Naturally, these included retractable downdraft systems, wall and island ventilation hoods, as well as air recirculation units. What made many of them memorable, however, were their striking forms and finishes.
In the meantime, here are some additional images I snapped.
From Blanco, a retractable faucet (whose name escapes me right now):
I snapped a great many more photos but unfortunately I’m not the greatest photographer, especially when surrounded by crowds. I’ll see if any more are up to snuff once I finish the issue.
Industrial designer Job Buenazedacruz has created an innovative toy kitchen called the “Una,” which gives visually impaired children the ability to experience kitchen play.
Children learn by mimicking adults. The Una gives small children the ability to play freely. As a designer I am most impressed with the thoughtful design. The Una allows children to cook, wash and store items with ease.
The induction cooktop has bumpons marking the burner areas. When turned on, the elements glow for the sighted children and cooking sounds come from the speaker. In a real-world kitchen, the bumpons from 3M are added in the field to the induction hobs and raised letters, or Braille symbols are added near the controls.
Another one of my favorite features in this play kitchen is the motion-activated faucet. Instead of activating water, the speaker plays water sounds when motion is detected. In today’s kitchen, these motion-activated faucets are preferred because they provide consistent temperatures and reduce the spread of germs and bacteria since they do not need to be touched.
The Una kitchen also features an oven which plays a ticking sound and dings when the food is ready. The bottom of the oven is removable and converts into a grill that a wheelchair-bound child can play with at a table. Other features include open shelves for storage, a secret compartment and a magnetic chalkboard.
I think this is a brilliant toy. It is imaginative and is inspirational in all the functionality and fun a real kitchen should be. My only criticism is the power cord. If a rechargeable battery can’t be used then the Una toy kitchen should be positioned over a floor outlet.