Isn't it what's on the inside that counts? You'd be surprised how what's on the inside is affected by what's on the outside. More often than not, that is the result of form and function complementing each other in what is DESIGN.
Based on your endeavor, giving attention to improved physical qualities can make a real difference for people.
Lets take a look at our Revolutionary Rebel, Grace Jun. In 2015 she became Executive Director of Open Style Lab- a nonprofit that teams students from engineering, design, and rehabilitation fields to create more functional yet stylish clothing solutions with and for clients with disabilities. Grace now leads its operations as CEO in New York. She's also on the faculty of Parsons School of Design, so she's kind of an expert.
Yes, beautiful design is wonderful. But it can be restrictive.
Lovely and diverse aesthetics allow us to communicate with visuals- let people know who we are and what we stand for. This has been a part of human nature for thousands of years. But it can be restrictive. We knew of the issues Grace and Open Style Lab address personally, as one of our founders has a brother with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. Simply finding viable clothes and getting dressed can be a major obstacle for him. A great mainstream example of restrictive fashion is finding plus-size clothing or makeup for all skin colors.
Design is ultimately about FUNCTION as much as FORM.
When it comes to spirits bottles, we see plenty that are gorgeous; but aren't nice to hold or don't fit into bar wells. We knew Mariette had to stand out -like a little rebel- but have the improved ergonomics of a small neck that make it easier to hold and pour. After a long night bartending, this makes a huge difference. On OSL, a way more impactful application of design, Grace told us,
"We remove the stigma of disability through design. I think our process and approach to diversity is something that continuously surprises people."
Reevaluating the status quo can be difficult.
We at Mariette had to think outside the box and create new ways of manufacturing that allowed us to have our gorgeous and functional carafe. Grace's team have to evaluate the plethora of varying details with that come with every client's unique abilities and sometimes even find innovative new materials. Plus there's never ending surprise-challenges...
"Working with diverse people is so rewarding but gathering everyone is one of the biggest challenges. From planning for Access-A-Ride to asking people to join in our workshops during the day, we are constantly juggling schedules. Another challenge is embracing the unknown of what inclusive design looks like because a lot of what we do depends on a collaborative design process."
But the result is SO worth it.
As rewarding as it feels when someone keeps our bottle for decoration, we're sure Grace feels 100x that when someone can finally be excited to get dolled up or even just have options. Speaking of 'rewarded' Open Style Lab has been recognized by the Make It Awards. Grace's work and team have received national recognition with the 2019 Cooper Hewitt Emerging Design Award and have been featured on CNBC, Business of Fashion, Vogue, Forbes, and the NYTimes. She has been asked to speak about disability and design in numerous settings from Design Indaba to SXSW.
We won an American Package Design award, but obviously concede Open Style Lab is way way more amazing.
So think about how design-lead thinking can make your project not just a more beautiful experience, but a more inclusive and inviting one!
The incredible work of Open Style Lab, lead by Grace, continues to dazzle- be sure to follow them online!