On Universal Design in Homes by Mary Jo Peterson

The concept of universal design continues to grow in popularity among homeowners, remodelers and designers. Once an un-familiar concept, the demand for products that are accessible and functional for everyone increases as these products become more attractive, available and appreciated.

Ron Mace, an architect and advocate who influenced thinking about design on an international level, is credited with creating the concept of universal design. According to Mace, the formal definition of the concept is the use of products, spaces and aesthetics to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability or status in life.

Another way to think about it is human-centered design, as it helps us remember that our surroundings and products should support the activities, lifestyle and circumstances of the people we are designing for instead of the other way around -- expecting people to adapt to the design. In addition, the design must respect the differences in human factors, while also maintaining a visually appealing aesthetic.

The terms aging-in-place and universal design are often confused. Overall, universal design is a broader term because it targets the entire population. It takes into account the reality that changes will occur over the life of the home and its occupants, as well as the environment and its users. On the other hand, the term aging-in-place is a little narrower because it refers to home modifications that support changes that occur specifically as we advance in the aging process.

Historically, there has also been confusion about the differences between universal design and accessibility products, putting an erroneous medical spin on universal design products. As acceptance of universal design grows, there is more understanding and appreciation for the cleverness of good design that improves ease of use. However, many designers still find themselves walking a tight rope when it comes to promoting both the beauty and convenience of universal design products.

More:

http://www.housingzone.com/design/universal-design-trends-kitchen-and-bathroom

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