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Archive for Universal Design

May 11 2011

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New (inclusive design) tricks from an old friend

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:

Photo 1 electricassistrev
Electric Assist Trash Unit. Blum’s new Servo Drive technology allows the door to open and close with a touch of a finger, toe or knee. This trash unit comes ready to install from Rev-A-Shelf with Blum’s tandem heavy-duty slides and a dovetailed box to hold the trash receptacle. The cabinet can be opened manually in case of a power outage. The soft close never lets it slam.

• 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.

Photo 2 tambouttablerev
Tambour Table extends from the drawer slot of a 24-in. base. It locks to extend and contract, and is Carb 2-compliant for California (and indoor-air-quality-concerned) projects! We know this as convenient extra counter space but it creates the perfect prep area for folks in wheelchairs!

Photo 3 prepared pot drawerrev
New Chrome Accessories for organized and secure drawer storage of pots and lids, dinnerware, canisters, bowels, etc. Drawer inserts have been available for years. These offer a more modern approach without having to buy an entire European kitchen. In general, drawers are more easily reachable by folks in wheelchairs, children and anyone who prefers or needs a more ergonomically friendly storage solution than typical base or wall shelves. These inserts make drawers a flexible, easy and logical storage choice.

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

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Jul 21 2010

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Una toy kitchen

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.

una toy kitchen

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.

Ann Porter

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