Industrial Design for Accessible and Adaptive Products

Industrial Design for Accessible and Adaptive Products


Our team at CHOi Design in Chicago has recently partnered with Juvo to create a line of adaptive bath chairs.

Juvo specializes in creating products for people with specific needs that “look better and work better than the alternative.” Founded by a man caring for his elderly father who couldn’t find products that could help him get around, he eventually gave up on the “old-fashioned, sad looking products that were available in the market.”

Our team is proud of the work we’ve done in collaboration with Juvo and would like to share some insight into our process, and the importance of creating more and more adaptive and accessible products. We hope more of these products will continue to come to market to help improve the lives of others.

To find out more about working with us on these products, visit our website.


As any product marketer knows, you need to have an ideal customer in mind when launching a new product. Your vision of your target user needs to be clear, and you need to be able to speak directly to that person.

But this ideal customer shouldn’t be considered only in the marketing phases. During product development, it’s important to keep your ideal customer profile in mind so your product meets their needs. Better yet, your product can respond to their needs, directly.

There is no better example of what it means to be an ideal customer than thinking of adaptive product engineering and design. These products meet the needs of users with limitations in mobility, sight, hearing, or others.

As technology is developing and the cost of adapting products is getting lower, many designers—such as us at CHOi Design—have dedicated our time to developing products like the new line of Juvo chairs that improve the lives of others.



Our team wanted to offer insight into our design process in hopes that others will similarly invest time in such a process, and that we may connect with others looking to add adaptive and accessible products to their current line.

We believe that adding these products to the market will improve the quality of live for countless people, allowing them to live more comfortable, safe, and independent lives.




The passing of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 brought more attention to the accessibility of public spaces (among other things) for those with disabilities.  

According to the, a person with a disability is defined as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” It also includes “people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability” and “individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability”.



Though the Internet has transformed the lives of many people, it may still be an unwelcoming place for people with disabilities. This article from the UX Collective outlines ways to make web technology more accessible for all users. Here are a few key points:

Color Contrast: Thinking about user interface (UI), you should make sure your contrast is high enough so that the colors are easy to distinguish— especially text. Before launching, check out how the site looks in black and white.

Focus: This allows users to navigate your website using only a keyboard, and can be used on items on a page like buttons, links, contact forms, etc.

Hover: Think of the Facebook “like” features that now include 5 options when you hover over the “like” button. This feature is accessible for users with only keyboards.

As more feedback is gathered from ideal customers using technology adapted for their unique needs, the technology will continue to evolve and improve.



The UX Collective article states: “More than laws and compliance rules, is it not just human to make sure that our products can be more widely used?”

We’d certainly like to think so, though we think both web and industrial design has a long way to go in order to catch up with the public awareness of disabilities and how we can best accommodate people’s needs.


Thankfully, the passing of these laws and this awareness has brought much needed public attention to these issues facing millions of people around the world, and has allowed us to progress at a faster rate than in previous decades.



As technology continues to evolve at exponential rates, product developers interested in adaptive product design will have two types of tasks on their hands: creating new products in order to meet underserved communities, and improving products that already exist.



There are many concerns that adaptive products can meet. Users with limited vision who still want to read text not specially designed for them may benefit from the Miracle Reader, which allows users to read books, magazines, brochures, they might have at home.


Users with limitations in hearing have traditionally needed to visit a doctor before getting a hearing aid, though companies like Empower have worked hard to bring these products to market so users can purchase them over the counter. Unlike a hearing aid a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) can be purchased without visiting the doctor.



When it comes to industrial design, it’s not always about making products that can be used by everyone, but about making products that meet needs of a small segment of the market.


And in addition to the need for products using cutting-edge digital technologies, there is a major demand for products that improve upon older ones that were designed in an era where there was not much market competition for adaptive and accessible products.

The new line of adaptive bath products by Juvo and CHOi design is an excellent example of what this looks like. Here are five elements of the design process.



User Research: It is vital to listen to market demand and understand which products are most needed by users. Sometimes, this comes from a personal experience. Other times, it could come by collaborating with experts in the industry.

Juvo came to us with their product in mind, and based on their past success and their focus and dedication to their ideal customer, we went ahead with our process.


Differentiation:  When Juvo first approached us with their idea to design an adaptive bath chair, our major goal was to differentiate it from other chairs on the market that were uncomfortable, clunky, and not aesthetically pleasing.

We knew a stand-out product would not only be more pleasant to look at in the bathroom, but it would also allow the user to feel safer and more independent.

 Drafting: In the drafting and engineering process, it is important to think of every aspect of the customer experience—assembly, use, maintenance, etc. A comprehensive understanding of process, material, and existing products will make this process as thorough and efficient as possible.

Because we have close relationships with off-shore manufacturers, we are able to communicate easily and move quickly on assembling materials to build the product. 

Prototype Testing: Once a prototype is developed, everyone involved in the process—as well as users—gets together to test the product. When designing adaptive and accessible products, it’s important here that all aspects of use are tested.

The testing phase can be an open door to continue to make improvements  upon the product, and to get information about the best features that would be most helpful in marketing the product.

In the case of our adaptive bath chair, our infinity handle stood out as a feature that differentiated the product as well as made it safer and more comfortable—two key demands.

 To Market: Whether you do marketing in-house or you work with an agency, it is important to use the data from the whole design process to inform your marketing. From imagining the needs of your ideal customer to reiterating the information you learned through testing, tell the story of your product.

More information on features of our chair can be found on our website.



More research needs to be done on the market demand for these products and how companies can meet the needs of users with disabilities.

We predict the future looks good as materials lower in cost, technology picks up, and we are more connected than ever before. Being able to use technology and design expertise to benefit the lives of others is our passion, and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Juvo in bringing their competitive product to market.

Want to learn more about working with CHOi Design on your next program? See our work samples or connect with us.

Erika Davis
Researcher and Writer at CHOi Design Inc.

Pinterest for Designers


Pinterest, the image-based social network, is not exclusively for those of the DIY and crafting variety. I have found that the benefits of using Pinterest are often overlooked in a professional design setting. Pinterest is an invaluable tool in my designer toolbox! Whether or not you are already using Pinterest, read through these 3 tips on how to optimize your pinning for your design process.

  1. Download the Pinterest browser button
    Adding the Pinterest button to your browser’s toolbar is a quick way to positively influence your pinning habits. For people that do not usually go on Pinterest for design inspiration, this can be a nice middle ground; you benefit from the same visual bookmarking tools while still roaming through your other favorite sources for inspiration.
  2. Pin to a secret board
    If you are searching for inspiration on a project at work, you most likely will not want your pins broadcasted to the masses. Enter the Secret Pinterest Board. This feature enables you to make any new board a secret, which opens up the opportunity to utilize the bookmarking tool sans the public broadcasting. Simply put, any activity within your secret boards will not be published. Another great feature of secret boards is that you can invite others - co-workers, for example - to collaborate with you, whilst maintaining the boards secrecy. Warning: once a board is made public, it cannot be switched to private.
  3. Don't overlook the benefits of a description
    It is very easy spend hours scouring the internet for product inspiration. A designer might spend quality time searching for innovative applications for details like product handles or buttons. Between the action of discovering an image and pinning it to a board, there is a spark, a meaning behind choosing to pin that particular image for that particular product search. I would advise you to make a note of your reasoning in the pin description field. This is especially useful when you are sharing your board with teammates; a small detail that was very striking to you may be overlooked by others. It is also a great reference for yourself when you begin the process of looking through your pins and digesting your findings. Note: I find this tip to be most relevant on secret boards. For public pins, consider using detailed and keyword-rich descriptions like buffer recommends.


    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    History of Industrial Design

    When looking for a clear picture of the History of Industrial Design, I found a lot of nuggets of information, but never a full picture. I have put together the information I had collected from these many sites, creating a more cohesive timeline.

    The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, introduced a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production.

    During the Great Exhibition held in Britain, Europe was introduced to America’s developments of modern industrial mass production and functionalism.

    The Practical Draughtsman's Book of Industrial Design by Jacques-Eugène Armengaud was printed. The Subtitle states that it wants to offer “complete course of mechanical, engineering, and architectural drawing.”

    Early 1900s
    Concepts such as efficiency, standardization and functionality became popular.

    Deutscher Werkbund, focused on the integration of traditional crafts and industrial mass-produced techniques, was founded. (Precursor to Bauhaus)

    After World War 1, the USA experienced rapid technological growth and industrial development.

    The first use of the term "industrial design" is attributed to the New Zealand designer Joseph Claude Sinel.

    Industrial Designers start mass-producing goods like automobiles, trains and electrical appliances.

    Walter Dorwin Teague created the first design offices.

    The Great Depression forces industrial designers to make their production methods more efficient and cost effective.

    Herbert Read proclaimed the first and the most important principle of industrial design: A factory should conform to the personality of an artist but not vice versa.

    Robert Lepper helped establish one of the country’s first industrial design degree programs at Carnegie Institute of Technology.

    The idolization of technology, progress and modernity was a represented and explored through design techniques such as Streamlining (styling a form to express speed and movement).

    Populuxe (combination of popular and luxury) was coined by Thomas Hine to express the consumer culture and aesthetic popular during this period in the United States.

    A product design section was established at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., said to be the first in-house design organization in Japan. This was created by Konosuke Matsushita on his return to Japan following a visit to the United States.

    When the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID merged with the Industrial Designers Institute and the Industrial Design Education Association to form the IDSA.   

    Post-modernist movement embraced the influence of color and experience. Robert Venturi is known for coining the term “Less is a bore”, a post-modernist response to Mies van der Rohe’s “Less is more”.

    Advances in computing and the rise of the Internet helps the Industrial Design profession push forward.

    The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) created the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Shortly after, the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged as a recognized sub-discipline of computer science.

    The Professional Practice Committee presented a updated definition of industrial design: "Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services and experiences." 

    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.

    Types of Prototypes

    types of prototypes

    CHOi Design utilizes prototypes at each stage of the design process. As defined by wikipedia, A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. Another way to look at characterizing a prototype is to think of it as a portrayal of a design idea.

    In the article, What do Prototypes Prototype?, Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill expand on their observations that the term “prototype” has different meanings to different disciplines. Thus a prototype can exist in many different forms, some looking market ready while others simple foam or clay forms. No matter what the appearances may suggest, each of these prototypes has an important purpose and may prove to be pivotal in a product’s success.

    To stay consistent with the terminology, as defined by Houde and Hill, I will use artifact in reference to the object or system being designed. I will also apply the 3 aspects they defined as the dimensions of a prototype: role (the function served for a user), look and feel (sensory experience), and Implementation (functional components). Every prototype helps a designer interpret and iterate on at least one of these dimensions.

    As we have established that there are numerous different types of prototypes for the many industries and designers, I want to highlight some of the prototype forms that Industrial Designers most often put to use.

    While not a 3D model, Storyboards are great prototypes for exploring the “Role” dimension. Often illustrating a user’s interaction with the artifact, a storyboard is a great tool for focusing attention on the identify of the artifact within an environment and the target role it serves the user. The appearance or details of the artifact within these storyboards is not important, all that is necessary is for the general form to exist within the situation you are illustrating.

    Visual Prototype
    This type of prototype serves to explore the “look and feel” dimension. Having the appearance of the artifact, designers can use these models to examine shape and size. While it will have the physical representation of the artifact, these models are rarely functional. Sometimes referred to as appearance models or mock-ups, it can be beneficial to both designers and their clients to see a design concept in it’s physical form.

    Proof-of-Concept prototypes explore the “Implementation” dimension. This form of model will demonstrate how the product works, providing functional validation. This will not be a perfect and pretty model; components will often be chosen based on price and accessibility, utilizing simple fabrication to communicate the artifacts potential.

    Presentation Prototype
    A presentation prototype explores the look and feel as well as the implementation dimension. This model is one of the closest representations of the final artifact; it will often be made from production grade or closely comparable materials and include the artifact's functionality, albeit a mix of bespoke and ‘off-the-shelf’ components. Presentation prototypes are often used for promotional purposes, to show product viability prior to manufacturing, and to help designers license their artifacts to manufactures.

    For further information on the types of prototypes, I recommend reading the article I referenced at the beginning of this post: What do Prototypes Prototype?, by Stephanie House and Charles Hill.

    Lindsay Schultz
    Researcher at CHOi Design Inc.