Inside Housing has reported on Northumbria University’s challenge to industrial design students to come up with ‘inclusive designs’ that facilitate independent living for disabled and older people. The judging panel included Alison Wright, Managing Director of Easy Living Home who won the UK Property Awards 2010 prize for her work with Habinteg on Westwood Park, and Wayne Hemmingway of Hemmingway Design, who is responding to the challenges of designing homes and spaces that are fit for purpose and useable.
One winner, Leo Miller, developed a pressure sensor controlled hob shut off device (that ensures the hob is deactivated when the pan is removed) whilst Isaac Teece, developed a simple removable magnetic light fitting to make changing bulbs easier. ‘Everyone I talked to said that changing light bulbs was a pain in the neck, so I realised there was a gap in the market,’ he says.
This latest design competition follows the ‘Designed for Life’ competition, organised by the Northern Housing Consortium earlier this year. It aimed to respond to the perception that there is a limited range of products available which can be used by older and disabled people, and to highlight the potential market for better designed products to housing providers across the UK.
Habinteg argues that good design is a wider issue and not just about new products targeted at groups of individuals, but designing things that are easier for everyone to use. Some leading brands have already demonstrated this increased demand for attractive and functional household items; B&Q are market leaders in the sale of attractive yet functional grab rails and bathroom accessories, whilst the OXO ‘good grips’ range has shown that it is often the simplest functional items that make things easier on a day to day level. Teece’s light fitting, that brings the light to the householder to avoid the need for climbing up to ceiling height, could make changing a light bulb less troublesome for everyone.
Paul Gamble, Chief Executive of Habinteg, says, “We are passionate about good design and have been exploring inclusive design principles within social housing. The idea that small adaptations make homes look institutional is out-dated. With such variety in product ranges, solutions can be found with a bit of extra research. However, whilst the more attractive products retain their premium price tag, it is a real challenge for registered providers and care providers to afford the best option. We welcome the Northern Housing Consortium’s challenge to make attractive adaptations more affordable.”
Habinteg’s inclusive design initiatives within the housing sector includes projects such as interior designed adapted housing (in partnership with Alison Wright’s Easy Living Homes), sponsoring and advising on an award winning wheelchair designed garden and Cloud Nine’s accessible, eco friendly modular housing system.
Read Inside Housing’s article on ‘bright ideas' (opens new window) or find out more about Habinteg’s inclusive design projects such as Westwood Park.