3 Min Lesezeit

From May 31 to October 20, the Design for All? exhibition at the Design Museum Zurich will showcase contemporary, inclusive design and architecture.

Mob Industries, suit for wheelchair users, 2022 | Photo: Denys Karlinskyy, © ASTRID DEIGNER x MOB Industries
Jen White Johnson, Black Disabled Lives Matter Symbol, Risoprint, 2020 | © Jen White Johnson
Joel Sanders and MIXdesign, Stalled!, revised floor plan of the toilet facilities of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, 2021-2022
Freed of London, Brown, Bronze, Pink, Ballettschuhe, 2018 | Photo: Tyrone Singleton. Models: Cira Robinson, Marie Astrid Mence, Sayaka Ichikawa, © Freed of London

The question is as simple as it is provocative: For who is our world actually made for? Every person is unique and has different needs and abilities. However, the designed environment rarely meets the needs of everyone. People who do not conform to common norms are faced with being unable to use objects, rooms or means of transport or only being able to use them to a limited extent due to disabilities, body size, age, gender or language barriers. So for who is our world made for? Or to put it the other way around: Who is excluded? The debates about inclusion and participation have occupied an important place in the design discourse since the 1980s at the latest. Although a lot has already been achieved, it is important to further raise awareness of inclusion and integrate it more fully into the design.

This is where the exhibition “Design for All? Diversity as the Norm” in the Zurich Design Museum comes into play. From May 31st to October 20th, the exhibition will showcase contemporary, integrative design and architecture. It focuses on five concepts by international designers whose practice embraces the diversity of society and makes our environment more accessible. In addition, a wide range of inclusive design will be on display, from apps, toys and clothing to do-it-yourself projects and the design of public spaces.

The exhibition serves as a forum to bring together leading voices and create a space for dialog and discussions on the topic. Across a 22 meter long ramp,  80 objects and projects take a stand on the topic, as part of a scenographic examination of norms and heights by the exhibition architects TEN Studio.  Newley interpreted walking aids, ergonomic eating utensils, ballet shoes in different skin colors, innovative aids for palliative care or the first female one Crash test dummies explore the term inclusion and make surprising connections. Many of the objects shown were created based on our own experiences or in co-design with the users. Six interviews with international experts, including Quemuel Arroyo, Chief Accessibility Officer of the New York State public transport company, expand the spectrum. “Design for everyone?” is an invitation to trace the origins and effects of the standardized environment and to think about possible solutions. With this speculative exhibition, the museum would like to contribute to the discourse about diversity and norms and shed more light on its own mechanisms, barriers and limits of implementation,” said curators Evelyn Steiner and Sara Zeller. A publication accompanying the exhibition will be published by Spector Books in German and English.

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