The Principles of Universal Design

Industrial designer Bruce Hannah shares his thoughts the best examples of the Principles of Universal Design.

Bruce Hannah: As with any "Top Thirteen" list (heck, why stop at just ten?) these are just my personal opinions, and I'm sure many wonderful universal design products have been left off. But, alas there is only so much room on a short list, so choices must be made.

The OXO "Good Grips" product line starts off my list. These are the first kitchen utensils to address usability for everyone. Sam Farber, the founder of Copco, had retired to France after selling his company. He was in the kitchen one day and he saw his wife attempt to peel a potato with the usual potato peeler we are all familiar with, the one made out of steel with a bent piece of metal for a handle. Sam's wife struggled and then turned to him and said, "can't you make something that doesn't hurt my hands?" Sam said, "I think I can. How about a rubber handle?" He was on the phone immediately with Smart Design in New York City, and he basically challenged Davin Stowell, Tucker Viemiester, Pattie Moore and the rest of Smart's staff to come up with a better potato peeler with a rubber handle. Not only did Smart Design come with a better potato peeler which changed how we all think about kitchen gadgets, but they continue to add to the OXO Good Grips product line today, 14 years later. As a side note: the OXO peeler wasn't cheaper than the standard product. In fact, it was more expensive. But it was safer, easier to use and more comfortable. People will pay for safety, ease of use and comfort."

Related Links: Smart Design