Inclusive Design: Opening speech
Ladies and gentlemen,
What is the hallmark of good design?
In trying to answer, I will give an example of a new invention I appreciate very much:
I guess many have experienced to stay in a camp, a cabin or a tent – spending the night in a sleeping bag when it’s cold outside. You want to read a little before going to sleep – but that offers a challenge: You must hold the book in the hands outside the sleeping bag – which also means that the whole upper part of the body gets cold. Now someone has been clever enough to solve this problem. A Norwegian sports gear company has started producing sleeping bags designed in a way that you can stick your arms out of the sides of the bag and still be covered all the way up to the cheeks. That – in my opinion – is an example of good design.
Good design is not an aesthetic add-on to a product. It is functional and intuitively understandable for the consumer. It is perfectly adapted to the area of use, it integrates innovation and increases a company’s competitive edge. And not to forget: good design is cool and can make us happy.
Design represents an important opportunity to include all people – with all our different needs – and to enable everybody to take part in society. This is an opportunity we cannot miss.
The UN Convention on the rights for people with disabilities was signed in 2006 and Norway will ratify it this year. The convention is an important ideological cornerstone, and new legislation for equal rights and inclusion will be based on this.
The Innovation for all programme is an important tool to fulfil this convention. The Norwegian government’s Action Plan for Universal Design and increased accessibility has been a driver in promoting Inclusive Design. Basing social development on these principles can improve quality of life for the entire population. Although historically focused on design for older people and people with disabilities, Inclusive Design is now the main tool for a people-centred approach. Inclusive Design can bring together commercial and social benefits – which ultimately benefits all of us and the societies we live in.
Norway, like other countries, has people of all sizes, shapes, ethnicity, ability, gender and age in our population. Design should recognize this. Business should recognize this. The people-centred approach promoted through Inclusive Design is becoming increasingly important – and it represents a bold strategy for innovation.
The representation of speakers here today reflects how we need to work: Across design disciplines, sectors, professions, and borders. This conference is about bringing together the needs and aspirations of the consumer into the design and development process. It is about good intentions and also about good business. I declare The European Business Conference on Inclusive Design 2010 officially open.
Thank you for listening.