The impact of culture on Universal Design

March 27, 2010 at 7:45 am Leave a comment

In an article in JETRO on universal design products, I am reminded of how culture impacts our daily lives. This is a basic principle that is taught to Occupational Therapists in school, in relation to working with clients of different cultural backgrounds and making sure to always take culture into consideration during all aspects of working with your client, including when generating a treatment plan. It influences ones roles, responsibilities, ideals, spirituality and social norms. Therefore, it makes sense that it also influences the products that are used on a daily basis.

Japan, similar to the United States, has an increasing aging population. This article points to the issue that “hand in hand, with the aging of society, we are seeing a steady increase in the ranks of persons who cannot use various types of standard products, or at the very least, find such goods difficult to use.” However, unlike the United States, it is traditional in Japan to have multiple generations living together which creates a receptiveness for products that are transgenerational in nature to allow the most possible users, versus “barrier-free” which culturally connotes disability or aging.

This article also discusses “Takumi”, which is the traditional “artisans or craftsman who fashion creations from wood”. The core idea of the work of “Takumi” is user friendliness, which parallels Universal Design. The products displayed in this article are a means to illustrate how traditional “Takumi” designs bridge with modern-day Japan to create everyday products that can be used by many.

What do you think of these products? How has culture impacted your work with Universal Design?

Entry filed under: Universal Design. Tags: , , , , , .

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