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Case studies  download this page as PDF

Case studies can demonstrate how inclusive design can foster innovation and improve design. In particular, the following case studies were chosen to show how inclusive design can be put into practice effectively in a commercial context, combining inclusivity with style, and producing products that are both comfortable and effective.

  • Ferrari Enzo: delivering accessibility whilst remaining premium
  • OXO Good Grips: producing mainstream tools that are comfortable and effective
  • Easy Living Home: integrating style and functionality
  • BT Freestyle: incorporating typical 'assistive' features into a mainstream product
  • Ford Focus: stretching the target market to widen the product's appeal
  • Factory Wares saucepan: designing a mainstream product whilst considering the needs of particular user groups
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The "Case studies" section was authored by Sam Waller, Ian Hosking, John Clarkson and Roger Coleman.

Further information


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Ferrari Enzo

With only 400 produced and a price of $670,000, the Ferrari Enzo is probably the last place you would expect to find inclusive design. Surprisingly though, a 2004 press article from the Ferrari Owners' Club indicates inclusive thinking within Ferrari’s design strategy for access and egress. The text below is paraphrased from the press article.

Climb into the latest Ferrari sports car and you are unlikely to notice the modifications designed with overweight, arthritic pensioners in mind. The Italian carmaker is just one of many companies grappling with a demographic shift that challenges the fundamental rules of marketing and design. The average buyer of a Ferrari road car is nearing 50 and set to get older. Car designers are responding by sparing the knees with changes to the door height. The trick is that no one must be able to tell.

‘The profile of our customers means we have to pay attention to practicality and functionality without compromising the sportiness,’ said Giuseppe Bonollo, strategic marketing director. ‘There are some engineering choices you can make which give you better accessibility and internal roominess. The way the doors open on the Ferrari Enzo, for example, allows part of the roof and part of the door undermoulding to come away as well, making it easier to enter the car.’

The press article credited the improved comfort of a modern Ferrari with doubling the average distance driven by its owner from 2,500 miles a year in 1990 to 5,000 miles in 2004.

Photo of a Ferrari Enzo with its doors open

The doors on the Ferrari Enzo allow part of the roof and part of the door undermoulding to come away as well, making it easier to enter the car.


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OXO Good Grips

OXO began with a few simple questions - Why do ordinary kitchen tools hurt your hands? Why can’t there be wonderfully comfortable tools that are easy to use?

In 1990, the first group of 15 OXO Good Grips kitchen tools was introduced to the US market. These ergonomically- designed, transgenerational tools set a new standard for the industry and raised the bar of consumer expectation for comfort and performance.

The annual growth in sales was over 35% per year from 1991 to 2002, and the line now contains more than 500 innovative products covering many areas of the home. The OXO Good Grips line has been recognized by several national and international organizations for superior design. The company’s strategy is based on the primary goals of making products that are usable and desirable.

See www.oxo.com for more information.

Photos of a pair of scissors and a potato peeler which have large, soft grip handles.

The handles on these products have innovative designs that make them comfortable to use, and the blades are functionally very effective.

Photo of a salad spinner that is operated by pushing down on a large plunger, and photo of a measuring jug with a measuring scale that can be read from above.

This salad spinner requires minimal capability to use, while this jug has a diagonal measuring scale that can be read from above.


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Easy Living Home

Easy Living Home specialises in creating inclusively designed homes that address clients' physical and aspirational requirements in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Their work encompasses whole houses, individual bathrooms and individual features, such as taps.

Alison Wright, founder of Easy Living Home, has been working in partnership with occupational therapist Kate Sheehan and Graham Group (UK’s second largest plumbing supplier). Together, they have developed Graham Living Works, a new brand of ‘inclusively’ designed bathrooms, which was launched with the first showroom in Eastbourne in July 2007.

Several of Alison's inclusive designs appear in the government document ‘Lifetime Homes & Lifetime Neighborhoods’ as examples of best practise. Alison was also delighted to receive two Kitchen & Bathroom Industry design awards for her ‘inclusive’ kitchen and bathroom designs in the prestigious Kbb Review Industry Awards 2007.

Please see www.easylivinghome.co.uk for more detail.

An integrated cupboard at the end of the bath has a flat platform that is at the same height as the lip of the bath

This stylish bath storage facility helps to prevent slipping by keeping towels close at hand, while also providing a seat to help the transfer into and out of the bath.


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BT Freestyle

The BT Freestyle 7xx series was BT’s first opportunity to test its new embedded inclusive design process. BT commissioned Alloy to carry out initial research and develop concepts which, along with consumer consultation came up with the criteria for the phone in 7 ‘easy’ categories:

  • Easy to dial - Large comfortable keys.
  • Easy to read - High contrast and large characters.
  • Easy to hear - Comfortable ear bowl, easy volume adjustment and inductive coupler for digital hearing aids.
  • Easy to hear phone ringing - Lower frequency ringer and increased size of the call indicator light.
  • Easy to understand - No icons, no abbreviations, keys with single functionality, intelligent function hierarchy.
  • Easy to answer and end calls - Large, separate keys to start and end calls.
  • Easy to see who is calling - 2 line dot matrix display, large characters.

Since its launch in July 2008 sales have increased by 20%. The inclusive design has also minimised product returns thereby improving profitability, despite higher manufacturing costs. Packed with features without compromising on style, the result is BT’s new flagship accessible phone which has proven very popular amongst consumers. More detail can be found in Alloy's article on their work with BT, and on BT's Including you website.

Photo of the freestyle phone, which demonstrates its simple layout, large keys and contemporary style

Packed with features without compromising on style, BT'’s flagship accessible phone has proven very popular.


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Ford Focus

The 1999 Ford Focus was developed to include as many customers as possible, on a worldwide basis. Considering one specific detail, the heater controls for this car are shown opposite. The centre knob for the distribution control is larger than the knobs either side of it, which helps the driver distinguish between the controls without taking the eyes off the road. Furthermore, the larger diameter provides sufficient space for larger heater control graphics and reduces the effort of turning the knob.

Photo of some of the controls in the Ford Focus

The centre knob for this distribution control is larger than the knobs either side of it, which helps the driver distinguish between the controls without taking the eyes off the road.


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Factory Wares saucepan

Factorydesign won the 2003 DBA Inclusive Design Challenge with their concept 'Factory Wares: an inclusive saucepan', which is shown opposite. The brief for this challenge was to:

"Design a mainstream product, service, environment, print, on-line or other communication which deliberately includes the needs and aspirations of currently excluded groups of people."

The ability to live independently is the key to quality of life for many disabled people. The users with severe arthritis who advised Factory Design all loved cooking but their moment of truth came once the dish was ready and had to be lifted from the heat. It was then that the weight and design of the saucepan increased the pain of their condition and led to accidents.

According to the leading arthritis charity, Arthritis Care, around ten million people of all ages in the UK are affected by arthritis and every one of them needs to eat. Visually-impaired cooks have a different set of issues, which relate more to safety and hygiene. Factory Design’s challenge was to create a saucepan that would transform the pain of their cooking experience to one where pleasure is uppermost and where safety and hygiene are assured.

A detailed report on this case study is available to download from the RCA's Designing with People website.

A stylish saucepan with two ergonomically designed handles

Factory design's concept for an inclusive saucepan has two handles that are contoured to fit the shape of the hand, thereby drastically reducing the strain on the wrists.

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