" I N C L U S I V I T E A"
T H E B E G I N N I N G
This project was driven by my desire to use design as a tool to improve lives. The inspiration came to me when I visited my grandma and she tried to welcome me into her home with a cup of tea. Unfortunately, she has lost some strength and dexterity over the years, and she struggled to lift the kettle from the tap back to the base.
T H E P R O B L E M
After countless interviews with elderly people and people with visual impairments, dexterity impairments and reduced strength, it became clear that a large number of people were unaible to operate kettles, a product that is synonymous with the British household. Countless interviewees would explain that they found kettles too heavy to hold or too difficult to tilt into a mug. They highlighted the failings of existing attempts to solve this issue, with assistive devices like kettle tippers being clumsy attempts to solve some problems but not all, while also becoming a stigmatising product that highlights the user as disabled.
T H E E X P E R I M E N T I N G
I wanted to take a more playful approach to prototyping initially. I would go into the workshop with no plan and after experimenting with the various tools and machines in the workshop I would end up with some of the interesting forms below. From here I could interact with the forms and see how they felt in the hand, imagining how they would be used by people with various abilities. After these tests helped define a more narrow direction, I moved onto development of some key ideas through sketching, CAD modelling, and 3D printing.
T H E F I N A L P R O D U C T S
The final outcome is a trio of core objects - the kettle, stand, and dock. All three feature a matching aesthetic to be immediately identifiable as a connected system. The design blends a modern, minimal look with quality materials; wood was used as a key material to avoid the project looking too futuristic and alienating the elderly target market.
T H E K E T T L E
The kettle features two horizontal handles, making it easy to carry for people of all strength and dexterity levels. It also features a translucent cutout to quickly see how full it is. To save users having to lift and tilt a heavy kettle to pour it, a simple button push is all it takes to dispense the water into a mug, pot, hot water bottle, or whatever else you want to fill. The kettle also features an innovation in the lid, where a dome and concave design allow the user to fill it without opening the lid, the water flows in, but steam and heat will be drapped inside during boiling due to the layout of the curved surfaces.
T H E S T A N D
The kettle easily slides into the stand, where an induction coil quickly boils the water. Little details make the stand more pleasant to use, such as rounded corners to make it comfortable to feel around or an indentation to easily slide a mug into place. The user has the option of immediately boiling the water, or they can adjust the knob to set a temperature for the kettle to keep the water heated to over a long period of time.
T H E D O C K
Once the kettle has boiled, it can be placed on the dock to enjoy drinks in a more social setting. The dock features the stand in the middle to hold the kettle and a spinning ring to hold ingredients like tea, sugar, and milk. The dock acts as a magnet to draw people to a central spot, encouraging people to have a casual chat or experiment with drinks together. It was great to see how different people interpreted this object, with some people making their own drinks, some people taking the role of host to make drinks for everyone, and some people forming a production line.
T H E R E S P O N S E
The response to this project was extremely positive and I feel it has showcased how inclusive design can benefit everyone, including the businesses that make the products. While the project won a national award and recieved international press recognition, the most important response was the feedback from the people this was designed for. Hearing the passion from people of all abilities about how this product could help them in their day to day lives and help sway the design of products for diasbled people has inspired me to progress with this project further and explore how to bring it to market.