Products that follow the principles of inclusive design and make everyday tasks easier.
In second year my tutor delivered a presentation in which he talked about how designers aught to notice everyday problems, be curious and question why things are the way they are. He mentioned that when peeling potatoes he’d noticed lots of design flaws in the potato peeler, it was uncomfortable and awkward to hold as well as being slippy in wet hands making it tricky to control, it took off a much thicker layer of skin than it aught to wasting too much of the potato, the skin would get caught in it and it would be fiddly to wash. He saw the opportunity to design a potato-peeler that could function better but found that Oxo had bet him to it.
Oxo's Swivel Peeler
After mentioning this in passing to my parents they decided to get me one for my Christmas so I can confirm that the Oxo peeler effortlessly removes the skin with minimal waste, that the “soft, comfortable, non-slip handle cushions hand during repetitive peeling motion” and that a quick rinse is enough to clean it.
The idea came to Sam Farber when he noticed how his wife struggled peeling potatoes due to her arthritis. It got him thinking in a similar way to my tutor so he promised his wife that he’d set out to create a better peeler. “After extensive research, hundreds of models and dozens of design iterations, the first 15 OXO Good Grips kitchen tools, including the now iconic peeler, were introduced to the US market. These ergonomically-designed, transgenerational tools set a new standard for the industry and raised the bar of consumer expectation for comfort and performance.”
Oxo’s Good Grips Swivel Peeler is a perfect example of a product born from an inclusive design approach. Having been designed for someone with difficulties who is less able resulted in an outcome that benefits the majority of the population, i.e designing for the extremes takes care of those in the middle. The large comfortable handle was inspired by a bicycle handlebar.
Slightly off topic but another, surprising example of this inclusive approach can be found in the Ferrari Enzo on which the doors allow part of the roof and under moulding to be removed for easier access. Ferrari identified that their average buyer is over 50 and with an ageing demographic is likely to get older, so the Enzo is designed with overweight, arthritic pensioners in mind. The average distance driven by Ferrari owners doubled from 2,500 miles per year in 1990 to 5,000 miles per year in 2004 in their more modern, comfortable cars, which I suppose one could argue is great design. I did not expect to feature a Ferrari on my blog!
Back to Oxo and why I think it is great design… It was Sam Farber’s vision to improve the relationship that the majority of the population share with everyday household objects, this is the reason I think it is great design. What drives me to design comes from my desire to improve and reimagine the way people interact with and experience their surroundings, this is something Sam Farber and the team of designers and engineers at Smart Design have done. They employed this philosophy of making everyday life easier successfully in many other products.
After being given the potato peeler as a gift my brother then tried it and liked it, so when the requirement for a new tin opener arose, my brother chose Oxo’s Soft-Handled Can Opener, which having been designed by the same people with the same ethos is also a great product. The large soft handles are super comfortable to grip, it holds the can perfectly, turning the large knob is super easy making the whole experience of opening a can incredibly smooth and simple.
Oxo's Soft-Handled Can Opener
I then moved house and since the can opener is my brothers I had to leave it. When replacing it, unfortunately I didn’t pick Oxo, I chose a fairly cheap stainless steel tin opener from the supermarket. After attempting to open cans of tuna on numerous occasions and it being super uncomfortable, the tin constantly slipping out, splashing me in stinking tuna-y brine-y juice I got super frustrated and decided I had to re-invest in one of Oxo’s Good Grips Soft-Handled Can Openers.
Stainless Steel Can Opener
I don’t understand how someone could design a tin opener and choose stainless steel as the material for the handles and knob. How could you pay such little attention to the user, make it so uncomfortable and difficult to use. I've also noticed that it has began to go rusty on the sharp edge and on the gears. It’s Oxo’s and Smart Design’s attention to the user, figuring out the most ergonomic, comfortable solution for any product that can be used by the largest amount of people that makes it great design. I love the way in which they have improved minor but important everyday experiences for so many people, it is what I aspire to do with my future.