Attractive to the eye and useful for the home. The teapot (second left) won the project bridging the world between those who see and those who don't.
photo: Courtesy of Czech Centre
To understand what daily troubles people without sight have from the moment they wake up, visit Bratislava's Médium Gallery on Hviezdoslavovo Square. Students of Czech and Slovak design schools have spent enough time with the blind to understand what they need in order to function the way those with sight do.
When closing your eyes, you can "see" their world by running your fingers over the curves and protrusions of
The Design for the Dark, an exhibition for the blind and partially sighted, is an equally enlightening experience for those with sight defects as well as for those with perfect vision.
According to the exhibition's organizers, estimates say that some 4 to 8 percent of the citizens in each society have sight problems. With the IT era in progress and people spending more time behind computers, they predict the number only to increase.
Society is not prepared for such a consideration," said Lenka Žižková, one of the exhibition's curators.
In the summer of 2004, the students spent hours talking to experts and people who are blind. In cooperation with various institutes helping the blind, they could experience a world of darkness in various simulations. At the same time, they were learning the tricks that help the blind to function.
"None of the groups had known much about each other before," Žižková said, "but in the end they found a mutual path."
Žižková (left) shows how the items work...
Among other items on show, you can find the "catch it where you want" pot with a special isolated handle run all around the brim, so one cannot be burnt when trying to find the pot's handles. One of the students designed a special and attractive watch for the blind so they do not need to ask fellow pedestrians or transport passengers for the time and thus can avoid bringing attention to their handicap. Another student designer came up with transparent plastic pads that are placed on the bottom of a glass to prevent it from being knocked over.
"You can simply carry it in your pocket and take it out each time you enter a restaurant," Žižková explained.
...and a "steady" chessboard (right).
photo: SME - Miroslava Cibulková
Korecký's professor, when seeing the resourceful work of the students, decided to create one device himself. He made a "nature identifier", which is a kind of scanner-camera instrument that after inserting a feather into it, for example, will tell you about the bird who lost it. "You can learn about nature while being in nature," Chrenka explained.
Considering what a fraction of the population are the blind, the industry will not "go crazy about them", Žižková said.
Nevertheless, several firms have already started to produce some of the designs on show, including Tescoma (kitchen utensils), ETA (household appliances), and Jablotron (electronic security systems and mobile phones).
"It's a question of time, until this segment understands the need to also produce such items," Žižková said.
| What:Design for the Dark - design for the sightless and visually handicapped.
Where: Médium Gallery, Hviezdoslavovo námestie 18, Bratislava.
When:Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 (Thursdays between 12:00 to 19:00) until April 12.
The exhibition's texts are partially in English.