Art and Design Research Centre
'If only I'd known then what I know now I wouldn't have done it like that'
Design should seek to provide creative tools and technological platforms to enable people do things for themselves: as 'active', responsible citizens rather than as passive, docile, consumers. This research study adopts creative design strategies to enhance quality of life rather than just focus on technical solutions for survival.
The need for user engagement in the design process is particularly acute where the target user group have specific requirements, which may not be fully appreciated by designers. The focus of this research, designing to support older disabled living is one such problem. The specific domain of interest; that of the bathroom provides a number of challenges to user-centred design methodology because of the highly personal, sensitive and intimate nature of the activities that take place there.
The aim of this project is two-fold.
Firstly, to develop a robust methodology for fostering co-design dialogue between designers, researchers and older people (aged 50+), with chronic age related health conditions which lead to disability and frailty. Examples include arthritis, osteoporosis, stroke and macular degeneration.
Secondly, to develop a range of innovative and desirable bathroom prototypes (both bathroom furniture and assistive technologies for bathroom use) that are sensitive to the problems of living with disability, which do not stigmatise, are capable of manufacture and will demonstrate the principles we have developed.
The three-year project was funded by the EPSRC led by Chamberlain and engaged researchers Mountain, Reed and Burton from within the Lab4Living team. It involved end users, predominantly older users, and Ideal Standard, one of the largest global manufacturers of bathroom products.
The project has involved the development and utilisation of creative methods for user engagement and informed the design of product concepts for the bathroom. The research has evolved to explore further the culture behaviour of bathroom use through the loo-lab project funded by the British Council and NIHR
Professor Paul Chamberlain - Co-Director C3RI, Head of Art and Design Research Centre, Director of Lab4Living and Director of Design Futures
Heath Reed - Principal Industrial Designer - Design Futures