Subliminal Universal Design
I saw during an NFL game a few weeks ago this Delta faucet commercial. (Scroll to the bottom of that page to see two versions and consider who Delta is targeting with that ad placement during a pro football game.) Delta promotes their touch and motion activated faucets among their “Smart Solutions” kitchen and bath fixtures.
Given our specialty, I immediately recognized the product as universally designed, but not once in either commercial do they mention specifically the universal functionality nor benefits for “aging-in-place” or overcoming inability/disability (although there is a brief glimpse of a kid with a cast). They merely SHOW easy use for anyone of any age or condition (messy hands). I love it!
When you walk through the automatic doors of a retail store, ever once thought to yourself, “Wow, that’s great universal design”? No, you simply walk through without touching a door handle.
Proponents of UD for the home often become frustrated when consumers “don’t get it”, when they react ho-humly to “universally designed” features held dear because the benefits of no-step entries, wider doorways/hallways, curb-less showers are so evident to us.
But the important point isn’t what it’s called but bottom line how it performs. Who wouldn’t prefer something better if they can plainly see and experience the benefits without a technical explanation? Who cares as long as it works as promised?
Universally designed products, features and applications are indisputably easier (simple/faster), efficient (conserving personal effort as well as energy usage), convenient (point of use), safer, comfortable and proactive (planned/designed with forethought). Consumers will demand these smarter alternatives once they see/experience that UD performs (and is affordable), not because of a technical name nobody can remember. The Delta commercials demonstrate effectively the advantages of their innovative technology over a traditional faucet.
As the saying goes, there’s plenty more where that came from, residential housing design and construction is beginning a renaissance (ironic considering the dismal state of housing in general). Next year BuilderFish starts construction of a Lifetime Home that will incorporate many of these elements. The project will be one big Show-and-Tell and we, including the owners, look forward to sharing the journey.