Universal design

Marc Harrison’s simple and elegant Cuisinart design was based on studying the requirements of people with disabilities. The large and easy to use handle and button were inspired by the needs of people with motor skill impairments while the large clear text labels came from thinking about people with low vision. Though I am certainly not an expert on the history of industrial design, I have been told that Harrison’s work, as a designer and teacher, was an early and major influence on the design of so many innovative and ergonomic kitchen gadgets – products that are repeatedly referenced as examples of great design.

It has been almost thirty years since Harrison demonstrated that thinking about people with disabilities can result in innovative, influential and highly commercially successful products, yet too many people, especially in technology, still work under the false assumption that making products accessible is a burden (while struggling to discover sources of innovation).

Dean Karavite has written a short piece on Marc Harrison , who designed the Cuisinart food processor. Harrison, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, was a proponent of Universal Design.