Over the summer I had the opportunity to tour the brand new shared showroom in Los Angeles for Bosch and BLANCO, two of the most innovative, German-engineered kitchen and bath brands available on the market. A group of bloggers, designers, and architects were gathered to hear the latest in universal design trends and challenged to utilize the products ourselves … but not without a few stipulations.
The common idea behind universal design is to make a space that you can live in for your entire life – from your early adulthood into your senior years. Universal design aims to create spaces that easily grow with you and your family while taking into consideration things like the complexity of aging, mobility loss, and sensory deterioration. For the people at BoschBLANCO, however, they wanted to take the concept a step further by contemplating all of the life stages in between post-college and pre-senior center living – things like injuries, pregnancy, and even unexpected circumstances such as raising a special needs kid or needing to facilitate a multi-generational household – and creating products and spaces that fulfill all of those needs while maintaining timeless style, flawless function, and supporting genuine sustainability.
The team of engineers, product managers, and scientists challenged us to use the newest offerings from both brands, yet with imposed caveats of universal design issues – from vision impairment goggles to a weighted faux pregnancy belly, we were strung a bit through the ringer in order to understand the challenges faced by all people who need universal design in their homes.
As someone who was not that long ago pregnant herself, I was so quickly reminded how complicated simple tasks such as loading a dishwasher or switching over laundry could be when you’re in your third trimester (although admittedly the dishwasher challenge was a bit more complicated for me, as we don’t have a dishwasher and it became apparent that I’ve forgotten completely how to load one).
Also, as a mom to a special needs kid, the accommodations made by both companies with true accessibility in mind were evident in the details of nearly every product we were shown. From the safety features of induction cooktops (it can be on and absolutely cool to the touch) to being able to program signal sounds (and lights!) that wouldn’t upset someone with sensory processing issues like my son, the extreme consideration put into every aspect of true universal design was abundantly evident at this new, state-of-the-art showroom.
I was truly impressed with the efforts put forth by Bosch and BLANCO to think forward with something so seemingly innocuous as universal kitchen and bath design, and I am incredibly grateful for the experience to learn so much about the future of residential design and the opportunity to share my input as not only a design blogger, but as a mom, wife, pet owner, and homeowner. Thanks again to Bosch and BLANCO for the opportunity, and I look forward to seeing the advances they make in universal design in the near future.
by Tabatha Muntzinger