When Norway launched inclusive design requirements for windows, window manufacturer NorDan saw this as an opportunity to innovate using Inclusive Design.
Project partner: NorDan ASA – Norwegian window manufacturer.
The project was inititated and coordinated by the Norwegian Design Council (today Design and Architecture Norway) as one of the projects in the Innovation for all Programme, and carried out with project partners the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Norwegian design consultancy Kadabra Design (today Eggs Design).
It makes an impression to see a person operate windows with an elbow. You learn that they are not so easy for everyone to open.
How can you improve an everyday object such as a windows?Innovating in an established market such as windows can be difficult, but a people-centred approach can help to take a fresh look at the issues and uncover new ideas.
The design team worked with a variety of users to understand issues.
The focus was on people’s everyday experience of using windows to get a better understanding of needs and aspirations in relation to windows. There was a spectrum of users representing extreme circumstances. These included a wheelchair user, a blind person, a person with arthritis and a student living in a tiny flat. Due to their more demanding needs, these people were more likely to demonstrate the inadequacies of current windows and provide varied and inspirational insight.
Basic functionality such as opening, closing and accessing the window was tested in workshops in the UK and Norway. One-to-one interviews in people’s homes gave a richer context to the research.
Ideas that not only meet new requirements, but also user aspirations.
There were many outcomes including some unexpected ideas. These ranged from product improvements and ideas for service delivery to concepts for entirely new products. NorDan were able to choose from a range of user-driven innovation and are currently in the process of developing some proposals.
Adopting an Inclusive Design approach has ensured that NorDan will be able to comply with new legislation. However, this process has gone much further, resulting in innovations that can be used to gain competitive advantage. By engaging directly with its consumers, and understanding how they live with the product, NorDan’s windows can become more user-friendly and have more market appeal.