Wolff Olins wins DBA Inclusive Design Challenge

A Wolff Olins-designed kitemark for people with mobility problems has won this year’s Inclusive Design Challenge, set by the Design Business Association and the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre at the Royal College of Art.

The Go Steady logo, an inter-locking arrow motif, could be applied to labelling, signage, packaging and clothing and would alert wearers and carers of the need to take extra care or provide additional support. It could also act as a kitemark, highlighting a product’s suitability for users with mobility disabilities.

Wolff Olins’ winning entry is a response to a brief by the NHS National Patients Safety Agency, which sponsored this year’s competition and set a second brief, in addition to the original inclusive design challenge – namely, to create a mainstream product, service, environment or communication which also addresses the needs of groups that are currently excluded.

For the NPSA brief, its head of design and human factors Colum Lowe asked designers to address the serious harm caused by what are described as slips, trips and turns. They were asked to look at how such falls can be ameliorated in an acute, primary, care-home healthcare setting or in the home.

‘Some patients may have a primary condition which means mobility and falls may drop down the priority list. A visual alert can have people looking out for each other,’ says Wolff Olins consultant Suzanna Livingston. An entry from product design consultancy Seymour Powell used ‘intelligent’ materials to create a suit of underwear that can act as protection in the event of a fall. The Free from Falls garment monitors the posture of the wearer and provides feedback on the user’s movements and balance.

According to DBA programmes manager Hannah Paterson, it is the first time that the scheme has taken a sponsor and introduced a second brief. ‘The nature of putting in two briefs got people thinking about both areas and has introduced a new element to the challenge,’ she says.

Although the designers could answer either brief, many of the solutions have a crossover from one area to another, according to Paterson. ‘The NPSA brief was that the solution should apply to a patient safety environment, but also have a wider potential usage. The Free from Falls suit, for example, avoids garments that are ugly and stigmatise people and it could also have a wider audience, such as people trying to improve their posture, or sports people,’ she adds.

Responding to the original brief, visualisation consultancy Uniform adapted computer and screen-based entertainment platforms to deliver interactive learning aids for children and young adults with special needs.

Also shortlisted in the competition are two aids addressing the difficulties of carrying shopping. Rodd Industrial Design’s Lugga is a shoulder strap and ergonomic handle grip which holds bags and leaves hands free. The second shopping aid is Creactive Design’s Loadall – a tray that allows goods to slide in and out of a vehicle at a practical height, eliminating the need to lift heavy goods, which can cause back pain.

‘The shortlist clearly demonstrates the key role design can play in improving the quality and safety of patient life,’ says Lowe.

Shortlisted consultancies: Wolff Olins (winner), Seymour Powell, Rodd Industrial Design, Creactive Design and Uniform
Judges: Roger Coleman, Professor of Inclusive Design and Research co-director at Helen Hamlyn Research Centre; Stephen Bell, creative director at Coley Porter Bell; John Corcoran, director at Wire Design; Oliver King, director at Engine; Deborah Dawton, chief executive of the DBA; and Colum Lowe
www.npsa.nhs.uk / www.hhrc.rca.ac.uk / www.dba.org.uk

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