Industry needs educating on the 4G home

Retailers need educating on how to adapt products to the 4G home, according to a panel of experts.

Taking part in yesterday’s panel discussion on multigenerational living at the kbbreview Retail & Design Conference at kbb Birmingham, Marten Baker, commercial manager at Crosswater, claimed that many retailers and designers are not aware of the ways that products can be adapted to suit multigenerational living.

“One of the main challenges we have as an industry is educating the retailer that there are products available that can be adapted for a users’ needs,” he said.

Designer Johnny Grey (pictured) added that “education needed to happen at all levels within the industry, not just with the designers”.

And with multigenerational living on the increase, as well as the fact that a person’s level of mobility could change at any time, the panel of experts argued that all designs should be carried out with the ability to adapt to the users changing needs over time.

Marten Baker
Marten Baker, Crosswater

SBID president Diana Celella said: “We need to start designing homes so they can adapt to multigenerational living.”

She claimed that designing kitchens and bathrooms for the elderly can be challenging but it can still be design-led. However, she claimed that reflective surfaces and ridges were troublesome for elderly users and should be avoided as much as possible in the design.

Baker added: “Retailers need to ask the right questions in order to draw the design elements out of a client as end users don’t know where to go when they need these kinds of designs.”

Grey argued that most kitchens could easily apply the specifications used in multigenerational designs, such as height-adjustable surfaces or pull-out drawers that don’t require users to bend to access the contents.

“Let’s have islands that are long and narrow, so they are more flexible, and add some pull-out seating as well,” he said.

He also claimed that the kitchen of the future would look very different, with wireless electricity the next big development, meaning that small appliances would be completely portable, which could change the role of the kitchen.

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