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OXO – Universal Design As A Business Strategy

Alex Lee

President, OXO International : USA

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Since its inception in 1990, OXO has created over 800 products in numerous product categories, focusing on the ease of use for the largest range of users. It has built a loyal consumer base around the world and a strong brand that is often cited as a positive model for the Universal Design movement. Its strong sales growth over the years is proof that Universal Design goes far beyond corporate social responsibility, and is a smart and viable business strategy. Alex Lee, OXO’s president, will address the history of OXO, its company structure, its design philosophy, as well a few brief case studies on both successes and failures among the company’s offering.

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Dag Klingstedt

President, Ergonomidesign Japan KK : Japan

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Ergonomidesign has been developing designs built on a backbone of ergonomics research for almost 40 years. This research has allowed the company to not only help bring out products specifically aimed at the elderly and disabled; it has also been the unique strength in our development of products for the "mass market".

There are two prerequisites for producing good universal design; one is to realise that it's important to allow as many people as possible the ability to lead full lives; the other one is to have the knowledge of what is needed to actually be able to deliver on that promise. Some so-called universal design products today are unfortunately not based on research, but on guess-work and ideas not properly tested with the target group. This leads to consumers starting to distrust Universal Design and to manufacturers loosing interest in the market.

By leveraging ergonomics research as well as the studies of disabled people, companies can not only benefit from the growing market for tools for the disabled, but also from increased sales in more mature mass-markets. This presentation will contain a number of examples of this.

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