Design for all, also known as universal design and inclusive design, means developing products and environments that are accessible to the largest number of people possible, regardless of age and ability.
Principles of universal design
A product that has been designed for all will satisfy the seven principles of universal design. These principles were developed and defined by a group of American architects, product designers, engineers and researchers.
Each principle is also accompanied by a set of guidelines.
Design for all in a commercial perspective
From a commercial perspective, design for all means that companies’ main target group is expanded to include all kinds of people, of all ages and with varying skills. It also means that the end user’s degree of ability is taken into account during the product development process, in order to give products added value for several types of user groups. In this way, the company can reach a large market and sell products that there is a widespread need for and that the market wants.
The coming grey wave is one example of a consumer group that will need good products that can be used by people with reduced eye sight, hearing, grip and mobility. By 2020, 50 % of the population will be over 50 years old, and between 20 and 25 % will be over 65 years, according to figures from Europe, USA and Japan. Norway also faces a similar outlook.
Countries that take design for all seriously
In Japan, industry is taking the grey wave seriously. 130 of the largest companies there, including Toyota, Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, Panasonic, Nissan, and Fujitsu have joined forces to form a universal design network in order to share experiences and expertise. The goal is to make the most user-friendly products in the world. In the USA and the United Kingdom too, industry is adopting the principles of universal design, and companies that manufacture products suitable for all have achieved great commercial success.
Focus on design for all
The Norwegian Design Council has decided to focus on design for all in 2005, the International Design Year. Our goal is to get trade and industry to recognise and accept the significance of universal design as a necessary design philosophy, commercially and socially.
To this end, the Norwegian Design Council has: