In the words of Italian designers Lucci and Orlandini, “design is functional form.” The less complex an object of design is, the greater the chance it will be user-friendly. Based on elementary principles of ergonomics and the elimination of the superfluous, universal design makes our life easier by providing our environments with safety, reliability, simplicity and comfort.
When designing your kitchen, the focus should always be on the correct sizing of each area, the attentive study of accessories and the in-depth analysis of all operative requirements. These considerations will help you plan a kitchen space that will let you and everyone in your household extend their range of action, move without any constraints and improve their reach.
Following are 7 solutions that apply principles of universal design to increase safety and functionality in the kitchen. These are features integrated by Lucci and Orlandini in their Skyline_Lab design for people with disabilities but can make any kitchen task more functional, for any type of user at any age.
1) Countertops with contoured shape: The layout makes it possible for users to move around smoothly and utilize every inch of the surface to its full extent and keep everything within easy reach. The rounded shape with no sharp edges is safe for everyone and adapts to all body and room types.
2) Carousel with multiple rotating shelves placed on the countertop: This is a practical (and elegant) storage solution for frequently used objects that need to be kept within close reach. Adding retainers to the shelves prevents objects from falling off when the shelves are rotating.
3) Special, layered laminate panel (shuttle) between cooktop and sink: The panel, placed flush with the other two areas, allows you to push pots and pans sideways to move them instead of having to lift them up.
4) Pull-out shelf placed under the oven: It provides an extra support base, allowing you to slide hot and heavy dishes straight out of the oven. Placing the oven as a built-in inside the wall cabinets – at chest level – with a right-to-left or left-to-right (instead of downwards) opening door further enhances the ergonomics and functionality of the design.
5) Shelf that projects from the backsplash and mirrors the shape of the countertop: It provides an extra surface area which is as ergonomic as the countertop by keeping items at close range.
6) Cart with accessorized circular trays: It’s a multi-purpose tool to move objects around as needed while working in the kitchen. Retainers mounted on the trays can prevent the items from falling off.
7) Extractor hood fitted with an electronic sensor, an emergency light and a remote control device: The hood can be operated at a distance and act as a safety lamp. In the event of a black-out, its lights stay on at half power for about 30 minutes, giving the user sufficient lighting to move around and reset the power supply.
Which universal design principles are you applying in your home to make it a safer, simpler, more functional and more comfortable environment?