As Chair of the Selection Committee I have been privileged to review some striking initiatives and inspiring products mapping out new directions for Universal Design, which together point to the remarkable preparedness and willingness of Japanese companies and individuals to tackle the wider international issues and social priorities that concern us all in these times of uncertainty.
The Jury panel, consisting of myself, Valerie Fletcher, Toshiharu Arai, Fumikazu Masuda, Francesc Aragall and Keiji Kawahara, from IAUD was drawn from three continents, and so able to take a fully international view of the entries. Unable to meet physically we each reviewed all the entries and then got together via a Skype video conference, so that we could all see, share and discuss the written and visual submissions in depth. Despite our different backgrounds and viewpoints, we found remarkable unanimity in arriving at our decisions, and a deep appreciation of the commitment insight and innovation demonstrated by all the entrants. So it gives me great pleasure to read out the citations for each of the winners.
Ricoh has demonstrated a very high level of commitment within the company to an extended CSR programme based on engaging and empowering the Ricoh workforce in the face of important international social needs. The Disaster area recovery support programme is built around practical activities to support and service local communities, not just by creating work opportunities and offering expertise and data printing, but also, and most importantly, psychologically thorough the ‘save the memory’ project which reunites people with their lost photos and personal documents.
The jury thought that this entry was innovative in the field of CSR by aligning itself very firmly with the physical and psychological needs of people in times of emergency and also by supporting the socially conscious aspirations of its employees. We congratulate Ricoh for its inspired creativity in recognising that in a disaster situation its particular expertise could play an important role in document recreation and photo restoration, in empowering its own employees as volunteers in all kinds of roles and engaging high school students in thinking proactively about restoration.
Sekisui not only brought the Lifetime Housing concept to Japan from the UK/Europe in 1991, it significantly improved on it by building a progressive and successful business around it. By merging the idea of Lifetime Housing and the idea of Universal Design at an early date, it has taken both concepts to the higher aesthetic and user-aware levels that make its products and philosophy truly inclusive as, simply better design for all. This work is underpinned by hands-on experience and training in custom-built demonstration rooms and dwellings disseminated through public and professional education programmes.
The jury felt that, in building a highly successful business around Universal Design thinking, which it has applied both vertically and horizontally throughout the company, and in successfully promoting the adoption of the concept by public and professionals, Sekisui has demonstrated the power of UD as a business model for the future.
The jury also urges Sekisui to share its story outside of Japan, perhaps as an in-depth, web based universal design case study. That could be transformative globally and is an exemplary success story of UD in practice, and the level of excellence achieved in Japan.
Kao Corporation has a long track record of commitment to Universal Design, with design improvements to domestic cleaning and toiletry products and packaging to reduce weight, improve legibility and aid identification dating back to 1991. Building on this trail blazing work, Kao Corporation is now adding closed-captioning to TV adverts to place Japan at the forefront of international best practice.
The jury found this an impressive example of long-term commitment to Universal Design by a major company, and an excellent model for a consumer products company. Through genuinely inclusive design innovations Kao has succeeded in offering benefits to all users at the same time as making the life of disabled and older people easier and safer.
Over 10 years of high quality work led by dedicated members of staff has accumulatively placed Universal Design at the heart of education at all levels in Shizuoka and made it a policy priority for the whole Prefecture. Not only has this work had a high educational impact, but Universal Design has been put into practice most effectively and impressively in the fields of transport and town planning across the Shizuoka prefecture.
The jury found this programme exemplary in the way it has communicated the ethos and practice of Universal Design to a whole community, and believes that Shizouka University of Art and Culture's sustained commitment deserves national acknowledgement of its distinctive contribution. Their community engagement, especially to young people, should stand as an international model.
First held in 2006, the Taiwan UD Awards have proved highly influential, raised awareness across wide sectors of the country and encouraged over 4000 entries with an increasing number from overseas. The program has a rigorous process and has generated many impressive ideas and much attention from designers and the public. The Taiwanese have learned from Japan and are creating an impressive UD network of government, academia, business, design, NGOs.
While there are a number of similar UD award schemes the Jury thought that the Taiwan Foundation for UD Education has achieved a very high level of impact and is making a significant change in attitudes and expectations in Taiwan, so it is appropriate for IAUD to acknowledge Taiwan's commitment and progress.
By applying the philosophy driving Panasonic’s well-established UD policy to challenges revealed by the Great East Japan Earthquake the company has designed a set of products for everyday use that double as emergency solutions. This innovative set of 5 products responds to the need for convenient and reliable lighting, communication and power supply products in times of emergency.
The jury thought that, importantly, while these products have a specific use value in emergency situations, their aesthetics and functionality ensure that they will be used and valued in everyday life and consequently will be available, well understood and so ready for use in any emergency. An elegant synergy of environmental and social sustainability. The jury was also impressed by the fact that Panasonic has donated over 8,000 of these to un-electrified areas of Cambodia and Tanzania and to people in Japan impacted by the earthquake, clearly identifying a global market for such dual use innovations.
More than a Bus, Hino Motors’ excellent realisation of innovative technology offers high levels of vehicle accessibility with low environmental impact. Significantly, the vehicle is capable of storing and delivering sufficient power to act as a mobile electric supply in times of emergency, giving it a dual role and social value, in everyday use and also in times of emergency.
The jury thought the bus design was innovative and original in its dual applications, and described it as a world-class example of design that is both green and universal.
This software system for transmitting text translations and transcriptions of audi information, subtitles and educational information comes not from a company but from an individual. It replaces a dedicated Windows-based system with an open HTML alternative that is compatible with a wide range of light-weight hand-held devices. It eliminates several problems associated with the existing system that make life difficult for disabled users, including the cost, weight, robustness and availability of equipment, maintenance costs, and restrictions on range and movement. The new HTML-based system works on mobile phones and tablets, as well as post-2006 games machines, which are cheap, light and extremely robust. It has already proved itself in use, won an excellence award and served in post-Great Eastern Japan Earthquake situations.
The jury was impressed by this simple, effective and essentially open-access solution to problems associated with transmitting text information crucial to hearing-impaired people, will bring great benefits and improve the life-quality of many people. By utilising HTML and common hand-held communications devices it will also encourage businesses, and institutions and entertainment venues to offer subtitling and supportive information that will be of benefit to all, as well as hearing-impaired users.
A well realized, simple guide to the essentials and necessities of life in Japan. Using diagrams and simple language in English, Mandarin and Portuguese to familiarise new residents with key facts, requirements and Japanese customs, it offers a smart, simple, inexpensive model of critically important inclusive information for foreigners in Japan.
The jury thought this entry had identified and responded to a genuine need and had done so within the Japanese spirit of welcoming hospitality. It will give new foreign residents great confidence and peace of mind, and is a model that deserves to be replicated.
An elegant and finely-detailed public seating system that seamlessly accommodates the needs of a wide range of users―from mothers with children to older people―and provides space for personal equipment, bags and guide dogs. Its good looks and Universal Design values make it suitable for use in foyers, atria and other public spaces and venues, along with a variety of public buildings, offices, airports and waiting areas.
The jury agreed that this entry employed an exemplary, human-centred Universal Design process, involving extensive user-consultation testing and validation. This resulted in a truly inclusive product successfully brought to market in 2012, and demonstrates the innovative potential of Universal Design when coupled with high aesthetic values and a sensitivity to user needs and preferences.
An innovative rethink of the traditional iron driven by a desire to reduce the physical burden involved in ironing. The double-pointed iron delivers a measured improvement in ironing efficiency with an associated reduction in effort needed to change hands. Serious testing with end users has validated this inclusive design, which offers benefits to all users as well as significant advantages for older people and those with reduced strength and dexterity.
The jury saw in this entry a simple but effective demonstration of the innovative power of UD thinking when applied to progressive product improvement.
Please make your inquiry here (you will be automatically transferred to the Inquiries page).