Author Onny Eikhaug at the Norwegian Design Council together with one of the book’s main contributors, Rama Gheeravo from the Helen Hamlyn Centre. Photo: Johnny Syversen / josy.no
Oslo: For every new person who enters the workforce, three people will retire. “The demand for products and services that can be used by everyone is set to increase,” says Onny Eikhaug, programme manager at the Norwegian Design Council, who has just co-authored a groundbreaking book on the subject of inclusive design.
According to Statistics Norway, the number of people in Norway aged over 67 will double over the next 50 years reaching a total of 1.5 million people. In Scandinavia, three people are currently retiring for every new individual entering the workforce, according to a Danish survey.
“Imagine a society where many of these large numbers of older people will require assistance from other people every time they want to get on a bus, book a holiday or open a packet of ham. Such situations – which most of us will encounter at one time or another – are stigmatising for those affected and represent an enormous responsibility for a society with a diminishing workforce,” says Onny Eikhaug at the Norwegian Design Council.
She is convinced that this scenario can largely be avoided if both private and public enterprises embrace and use inclusive design as a tool each time new products, services or environments are being planned and developed. For this reason she has commissioned the book Innovating with People – The Business of Inclusive Design, whose main idea is to lower the threshold for adopting inclusive design as a business strategy.
The average person is a myth
According to Statistics Norway, three in ten Norwegians say they have health problems that affect their everyday lives. “Even today the average user is in many ways a myth. Most of us have one or other ailment or condition that means we have special needs. Nevertheless, many companies make the mistake of designing products and services for the average person, without stopping to think that none of us are actually average in all respects,” Eikhaug says.
By using inclusive design, products and services are developed for both functionally able individuals and people with various disabilities. In this way one ends up with a result that is better for everybody. “I have never heard of anyone who has complained about doors that open automatically or modern taps that can be turned on and off using only one hand,” Eikhaug points out.
A practical recipe for design
The book Innovating with People – The Business of Inclusive Design, which was launched at the Innovation for All 2010 conference, provides an introduction to how inclusive design can be used both in product development and design processes as part of a good business strategy. It is almost like a step-by-step cookery book, according to the writers.
“We show how both public authorities and private enterprises can use inclusive design in practice. We also provide several national and international examples of how the method can result in major competitive advantages,” Onny Eikhaug explains.
Success with inclusive cutlery
She cites the cutlery manufacturer Hardangerbestikk as a good example of how inclusive design can lead to better products, increased market penetration and improved profitability.
”Hardangerbestikk’s Tuva cutlery, which they developed in collaboration with the industrial designer Per Finne, has a balanced shaft which is better for both children and older people to hold. At the same time it appeals not only to people with reduced grip abilities. One year after the cutlery was launched on the market, more than twice the expected amount has been sold,” explains Onny Eikhaug.
Facts about the book ”Innovating with People – The Business of Inclusive Design”
This article was written by Pressenytt for the Norwegian Design Council. Pressenytt is responsible for the editorial content of this article.