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Snaidero Universal Design Kitchens

Universal design doesn't need to be ugly--and, more so, shouldn't be. Done well, it's undifferentiated design for the whole population, for disabled and nondisabled people alike, as Graham Pullin, the author of Design Meets Disability, says in Universal Design 101, which he penned for Dwell's March 2010 kitchen-themed issue. Eight years ago, Italian kitchen company Snaidero adapted this belief and set out to create an attractive kitchen collection called Skyline.

Italian kitchen company Snaidero set out in 2002 to create an attractive kitchen system that would meet the needs of individuals in wheelchairs. The result: the Skyline kitchen.

The company first developed Skyline Lab, in which to test their ideas and develop prototypes. The found that pull-out shelves make it easier for people in wheelchairs to reach objects and shallow sinks offer higher clearance and let  users navigate their wheelchairs under the sink without banging up their knees.

Snaidero worked with Lucci Orlandini Design to create the Skyline collection, which the company then tested by installing a kitchen in the spinal unit at the Gervasutta Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine in Udine, Italy, for patients in wheelchairs participating in rehabilitative physical therapy to test out and give feedback.

Snaidero found that pull-out shelves make it easier for individuals in wheelchairs to reach items and that rounded edges (as opposed to square corners) increase the area that the person can access and use.

The Skyline kitchens feature rounded edges and contoured countertops so that individuals in wheelchairs can move around the entire space and reach all areas. The drawers and fridges feature pull-out draws, the sinks have shallow basins to allow the extra legroom below, and the countertop shelves are made of glass and include built-in retainers so that items can be seen from beneath but don't fall off the shelves.

To see more images of the Snaidero Skyline Kitchen, view our slideshow. To learn more about design for everyone, read Universal Design 101 from the March 2010 issue, or watch our Universal Design: Public Restrooms video.

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