Designing Functional Kitchens with the Help of a Blum Age Explorer Suit

Experiencing advanced age helps researchers plan accessible universal design.
Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino

Decreased range of motion, aching joints, blurred vision: It’s one thing to know what aging is like in theory and another to experience it firsthand. For researchers and designers of functional home hardware, that’s where the Blum Age Explorer Suit comes in. The suit, developed by the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Europe, simulates the effects of aging with special stitching that makes it difficult to straighten the arms, weighted bindings at the knees and elbows, special goggles and headphones that limit hearing and vision, and gloves that imitate the effects of arthritis and make it difficult to grasp objects.

While wearing the suit, the writer was tasked with getting pills out of a bottle—
not an easy thing to do with gloves that simulate arthritic hands.

The building industry has always been aware of how important it is to anticipate the way kitchens should be planned for the future. In order to give kitchen designers the experience to understand their client’s needs, Blum, a home furnishings and accessories supplier, teamed up with the Aloha Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association to demonstrate the suit during an April 2019 workshop held at the Pacific Source showroom.

Wearing the suit while performing everyday tasks like cooking and serving meals helps Blum researchers test and optimize their kitchen products to ensure people at any stage of life can use them with ease. And people who try on the suit at events like the one in Honolulu get a feel for some of the limitations they might face as they age.

The Blum Dynamic Space kitchen demo at Pacific Source allows people to experience how these innovative new features work.

Whether it’s making things more accessible for women who are pregnant or folks suffering from disabilities, injuries or age-related conditions, certain key features in these kitchens ensure that even if your needs and life circumstances change, working in the kitchen will be as convenient as possible.

Heavy drawers that slide open with a light touch are part of Blum’s accessibility solutions. 

Base cabinets that bring the contents up to your fingertips instead of requiring you to bend down for things; heavy drawers that open with the light touch of a button; lift systems in wall cupboards that move up and out of the way with light pressure, and close effortlessly: All of these developments are the new and exciting face of kitchen design.

You can see and test Blum’s Dynamic Space kitchen solutions for yourself at the Pacific Source Honolulu showroom.

Pacific Source Honolulu
80 Sand Island Access Road, 
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., appointments encouraged
(808) 450-2400

Categories: Appliances, Digital Exclusive, Kitchen