2nd Year SPD students design products for independent living

Students form the 2nd year of the BA(Hons) Sustainable Product Design course are working with local charity, Cornwall Mobility, to design products that allow people with physical disabilities or mobility difficulty to live more independent lives.

The design ideas will be generated and evaluated through user-centred design techniques such as interviews, observational studies, design probes and focus groups. The students will capitalise on opportunities for direct engagement with potential end users that will lead the design refinement. The project builds on the Inclusive Design module from the first semester where the students are introduced to user-centred research and the principles of inclusive design.

The final concepts will focus on providing independent living to someone who suffers from a particular disability, such as arthritic conditions, visual impairment, dementia, etc. Students may work in pairs or small groups for the research activity, but will develop their own design concepts. Research and concept themes include areas such as cooking, washing, getting dressed, gardening, and driving.

As part of the research activity, all the students were invited to Cornwall Mobility, in Truro, to get a clear insight into their role in supporting people with physical disabilities. Ron Spence spoke about the centre’s remit in providing driving assessment. Vehicle aids and specialist adaptations are specified and fitted by the CM team in their on-site workshops. The students had the opportunity to use a driving simulator to test strength in turning the steering wheel, and breaking reaction times. Melanie Brown showed the students around the charity’s showroom of independent living products and provided some useful feedback to students on their initial ideas and areas to research. The students also had the opportunity to test drive some electric wheel chairs.

The project will be presented in the end of 2nd year show where the students will be exhibiting their design concepts. The work can be seen in the SPD studio, Design Centre, Penryn Campus, from 15th to 17th May 2015.

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