Czech Centre show seeks input from blind target market

Bridging the gap between functionality and aesthetics, this month the Czech Centre is launching an interactive showcase of products designed for the visually impaired, at the Royal National Institute of the Blind Scotland’s Employment and Learning Centre.

The products are a result of a programme of extensive investigation by design students from the Czech and Slovak Republics, into improving the everyday lives of the blind and visually impaired.

‘The brief is incredibly complex and has been an enormous challenge,’ says Ladislav Pflimpfl, director of London’s Czech Centre, ‘but the young designers have really risen to the challenge.’

From specially designed salt and pepper shakers and clothing to hi-tech liquid level indicators, the exhibition promises to draw attention to an area often overlooked by mainstream contemporary designers.

‘The exhibition is like a research laboratory,’ says Pflimpfl. ‘The students are collecting feedback from visually impaired people and improving the products, so it’s an ongoing collaboration.

‘It’s an interactive show, so people can come and touch, play and comment on how the designs work for them.’

The products are designed for the blind, but the importance of curb appeal has not been forgotten. ‘The objects must be 100 per cent functional, but the aesthetic quality is also there,’ Pflimpfl explains.

Roman Sedina’s egg cup is sleek and modern in stainless steel and white porcelain, while Peter Elias’s cooking pots in bright, primary colours have prioritised both visual impact and functionality.

Since its conception four years ago, the Design Beyond Sight exhibition has travelled all over the world – from New York to Warsaw – and this month to the RNIB’s hi-tech 2.5m Employment and Learning Centre in Edinburgh. Organisers hope to bring the exhibition to Cardiff, Birmingham and London.

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