Student hopes his design is everybody’s cup of tea

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PEOPLE are now inviting their loved ones inside their homes for tea or coffee, a university student has designed products to make this easier for those who might struggle.

Product Design student Nick Fitzpatrick has made inclusively designed kitchen products as part of his final year studies at the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

He is among the students exhibiting their work at the online Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2021.

Kettle - Business News Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. These products are also aesthetically appealing to those who do not require its functional benefit.

Nick (22) has designed the products, which consist of an innovative kettle, a heating stand, and a rotating tray, to assist the elderly and people with a range of disabilities.

He was inspired to create the products after noticing his grandma, who usually welcomes her loved ones into her home with the promise of a warm drink, was beginning to struggle to use a standard kettle.

Nick said: “At the start of the project I went over to my Grandmas house and I could see her really struggle to use her kettle.

“What really highlighted the issue for me was when she was trying to make a cup of tea for me and my Dad to welcome us into her home we could see that she was really struggling to lift and hold the weight of the kettle.

“That is what made me think that it is something that needs to get fixed.”

He added: “She loves it and getting to see her pick it up and use the stand was amazing.”

Kettle - Business News Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. Nick set to work to create something to make the process easier for his gran.

Nick said: “As a designer, I felt it was my responsibility to make something that would allow my grandma to go back to the days of when she could host people the way she wants to.”

“I soon realised there are so many different kinds of people who struggle to use kitchen items such as a kettle, despite the fact that it’s such a common item that you use for so many things.

“Unfortunately, there are stigmas associated with using assistive devices.

“Existing products such as kettle tippers, while functionally effective, are designed for people with physical disabilities and unintentionally cause separation.

“The goal with my design was to make it look appealing, no matter who you are, so that people like my grandma or people who might need to use it for the functional benefit wouldn’t feel stigmatized.”

Kettle - Business News Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. Of Nick’s three products, the kettle is the main feature.

Nick has designed a dispensing kettle rather than the usual pouring kettle, which has two large handles so it can easily be moved and re-filled.

The second product is the stand the kettle sits on, which uses emerging technology of induction heating so that the kettle doesn’t have to have any electronic components inside it, keeping it light.

The third product what Nick calls ‘the dock’, an object you can set the kettle on which has a ring to spin different ingredients around.

“The whole process has been lots of experimenting,” Nick continued.

“I’ve been through countless prototypes and sketches to see what people think of the products.

“I spoke with many kinds of people to see how the product could work for them.

“I also have a friend who has arthritis, and I was able to ask her lots of tricky questions without being worried about offending her. This really helped the process.

“I’m driven by making products that help people and hope I can continue to do this once I graduate.”

Kettle - education news Scotland
Photo by the University of Dundee. Nick hopes that the stigma of using assistive devices will be broken as he has designed a product that he hopes everyone will use.

He has said: “It was designed with people with vision impairments in mind, reduced dexterity in mind, elderly people in mind but the goal was that it would be an attractive product to everyone.

“If everyone likes the look of it and everyone’s using it then that is the key part of making sure it is not stigmatising to anyone that feels they need to use it.”

He hopes that his kettle can be used in multiple different places including homes, offices, hotels and even care homes where people would get the independence to make their own cup of tea.

Nick said: “The thinking behind it is what I really worked hard on, the process of finding a problem and finding an out of the box solution.

“I want to keep being driven by my desire to help people through design.

“I hope to meet new people, find new problems, and find new ways to solve them.”