What happens when you get a lot of passionate, creative people in one place? They start to re-design the world.
This is what happened at an event organised by Enabled by Design last week at the London Design Museum. Enabled by Design set up by Denise Stephens in 2008 aims to challenge the one-size-fits-all approach to assistive equipment through the use of clever modern design.
This event, which was a first for Enabled by Design, brought together service users, designers, technologists, health and social care professionals, third sector organisations and charities to help reframe the ageing/disability debate so, said Denise ” rather than focusing on impairments, we want to concentrate on people’s abilities and the products/services that can help support them to live as independently as possible, as well as making life that little bit easier and more manageable”.
Speakers at the event included Wayne Hemingway who talked about the urban landscape and how much of our modern urban architecture lacked the livability factor apparent in other European countries such as Copenhagen.
Julia Cassim from the Helen Hamlyn Centre shared her views on inclusive design, suggesting that we should encourage designers to think about disability as an opportunity for innovation rather than creative handcuffs. After all, the typewriter was invented for someone who had difficulty writing.
Much was said about user centred design and social innovator, Charles Leadbeater talked about the risks of having things done to you when having things done for you, and the importance of working with people rather than for them. As Julia Cassim pointed out, it is important to design alongside users rather than treating them as guinea pigs.
However, it was in the workshops which ran throughout the day where the event really differentiated itself. Various workshops explored art and leisure, product design, workplace (including employment law, with our legal expert Catriona Watt), technology and urban design. The first floor of the Design Museum was awash with paper, post it notes and stickers full of notes, ideas and re-designs of household objects as the assembled creative brains were fired into action.
There is no doubting the enthusiasm and passion of the design community to make inclusive design a reality. However, with Tuesday’s debt busting budget looming, we will need to make the business case for inclusive design to ensure that the products and services which will so enhance the lives of us all, make it to the mainstream.