The first DBA Inclusive Design Challenge presented the organisers with a dilemma/ how to attract entries without giving the impression that this was just a conventional design competition, and not something entirely different? By calling it a ’challenge’, the intention was to emphasise that the shortlisted design teams would go on a mentored journey that would challenge them creatively and intellectually – and it was here that the real rewards lay. So no trophy was offered and the brief was kept open. The four shortlisted concepts were wide-ranging and innovative. They included Design House’s sports-based broadband Internet channel, the Renfrew Group’s customisable drive-by-wire interface and Priestman Goode’s proposal for a 3D printer using emerging rapid-prototyping technology. But the one that stood out was Milkman by Factory Design, a redesign of the standard milk carton, making it safer and easier to open, particularly for people with arthritis. This project has since become a widely admired benchmark model of inclusive design in the area of packaging and the subject of a Channel 4 educational film for schools.
Feedback from the first Challenge teams was encouraging. All found the experience tough, stimulating and worthwhile, but they advised that it should be billed as a competition with a trophy for the winner in order to gain profile among that most competitive of species, designers. Five projects were shortlisted in 2001: BDG McColl proposed Mobospace, a community-based information, training and social facility; Siebert Head created user-friendly packaging for toiletries; and Marketplace came up with Re:mind®, a simple-to-use device to help those with early dementia symptoms remain independent and stay in touch. But it was Imagination’s Inspiration Park that carried off the trophy. This all-weather city park was designed to allow visitors with different disabilities to enjoy the environment and feel safe and inspired. The concept embedded sound, lighting and communication systems to enhance the visitor experience and provide essential security and navigational cues. Features included rubber climbing blocks, over-sized bamboo wind chimes, slopes seeded with succulents and scented wall climbers, and a vertical water wall. Alloy’s Kettlesense, a clever rethink of the conventional kettle to find a safer and more inclusive way of boiling water, ran a close second.