January 14, 2009

Collaborative Design of a Lifestyle

The Chicago Tribune has another story about collaboration where a designer enters into the reality of someone with a disability to provide a mutually transforming result. See Young designer makes a kitchen accessible—and pretty

Starting from the fundamental reality that ADA is not Universal Design designer Jordan Guide began work on the kitchen of Connie Wurtzel:

"The look of ADA is not luxury by any means," Guide says. "It's very basic. It's very institutional looking. And Connie is not that and would never settle for that."

Notably, Guide used few specialty products designed for people with disabilities. Instead, she specified standard items and then used them in creative, accessible ways.

This is the goal of inclusion. Not separate and stigmatized but "imagined" into normalcy and full participation by intent of design

Author Karen Klages comments:

t is important to note that although the kitchen was gutted and feels gads bigger now, it retains its original, (slightly larger than) 10-foot-square footprint. The only wall-altering change that Guide specified was widening the entryway by 7 inches so Wurtzel could glide easily into the room.

And also important was the Wurtzel-Guide teamwork involved here, which also feels bigger than most client-designer relationships.

Before plans were drawn, Guide spent significant time observing Wurtzel in the kitchen, noting her "range of motion, her strengths, her weaknesses and what she was lacking" in that kitchen. And all along the way, Guide would insist that Wurtzel try out products and appliances to make sure her client actually could use, reach and maneuver them.

The function/happiness that resulted from all this attention to detail is stunning in its breadth.

"Stunning." What an appropriate description for both the process and product of the respect embodied in Universal Design.

Posted by rollingrains at January 14, 2009 05:58 PM