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Research Book Discovering Un-Met Needs in the Kithcen by Alexandra Blischke




This project has been carried out with the aim to discover an un-met need in the kitchen. Applying a user centred and inclusive design approach close interaction with the user has been essential for the development of the product. Extensive research carried out in an international environment has eventually led to the optimum design of the product. This booklet summarizes research stages during the project.

Empathy Tools


In order to understand the various disabilities and limitations with age, several sitations were simulated. The results reveal design areas which require thought and further development whilst simultaneously highlighting flaws in existing products.

y Tools

I have less sensitivity to what I want and what I’m trying to do. It’s not incredibly hard. But it is a bit more difficult to grip things. - Ben Thomson


I usually peel the onion with my hands and my nails. So I have to do it with something else, so im using the tip of the knife.


- Alexandra Blischke

I’m just going to look a bit closer! Is this really big cutting? I cant… I don’t really realize... - Julia Dick

I feel useless. I would cut another onion, but I just can’t be bothered with the gloves. It’s just not fun anymore

- Michael Blischke



A visit to the Disabled Living Centre in Brighton gave the opportunity to speak with Derek Moore, who gave an insight into the conditions, situations and tools that elderly have and use today. It has given an initial insight into some characteristics the product will need to have


Simple movements and functions. Magnified handles.


Good gripping surfaces.


Clear buttons and colours. Its function must be obvious.

User Profiles

User Pro


To create a product suited for the intended user, it is necessary to understand the individual user.


Simplicity of movements to accomodate stiff fingers.


Leveled wrist, applying force more efficiently from the upper arm.


Required force to open the jar. Releases the airtight seal,

Maj Svenungsson Age: 80 Difficulties: Large lengthy tasks such as defrosting the freezer are tiring.


I would love more baking equipment in many nice colours.


Maggan Gustafsson Age: 73 Difficulties: Packaging can be hard to open so I have a small portable knife that I keep in the kitchen.


I like to use my test needle to see whether the food is ready.


Frau Franke Age: 65 Wishes: I would like more modern kitchen cupboards, maybe in a white colour.

Preparation is key!


Stainless steel lasting for 15 years. Timeless, simple designs.


Clean, hygienic and functional addon to existing areas.


Organization and grouping to recognize function.

Frau Fuchs Age: 72 Difficulties: To avoid the hassle of a regular coffee maker me and my husband now use Senseo. This is perfect as we can make it per cup.

We gave all our complicated kitchen machines away. We don’t need much.


User must be able to identify whether the object is on or off.


Most efficient solution may not be the most aesthetically pleasing.


Treat objects the way they naturally come to you.

Helga Wassertheurer Age: 65 Difficulties: I replaced my iron pans with teflon because they were too heavy to lift. I also have cutting difficulties because my hands are quite stiff.


Everything takes more time when you get older, but I still love cooking.


“My arm starts to hurt when I grate cheese.” - Heinz Wassertheurer, 73 Sweden

“I hate cleaning ceramic plates. Can you design a self cleaning stove?” - Birgit Heuser, 47 Germany

“When I cut freshly baked bread the crumbs go everywhere!” - Andrea Franke, 42 Germany

“My carbon knife cuts through anything.” - Eila Huttunen, 57 Finnland

“My filet knife works really well.” Britt-Marie Svensson, 65 Sweden

“Having lost strength I like to use the hand mixer for a lot of tasks.” Elsie Varga, 71 Sweden

Marlies Schöneseiffen Age: 72 Difficulties: I can’t mash potatoes anymore, I don’t have the strength and my back hurts. I have to ask my husband for help.

I like what the youth has, modern things!

Marlies asking her grandson and husband for help...


Extreme environments pose threats to the user such as steam, heat and splash back, which can cause burns.

The Problem

The Prob


Research shows that there is a need for a new mashing unit. This masher must be easier to use than existing products.

Existing Mashers Testing existing mashers is essential to understand and analyze the difficulties with mashing


Flat surfaces were extremely difficult to mash with: very strong resistance.


Plastic mashers were inefficient.


Pressure highlights the importance of a strong structural design and good materlal choice.

Ergonomic Research

Initial Prototyping

Initial Pro

Prototyping aids the understanding and realization of the product, as well as highlighting structural or functional flaws. The product becomes ‘real’.



Shape should avoid the mash heaping up.

Surface Area

Needs to be balanced for successfull mashing.


Shape should encourage flow and easy cleaning.


Extra support to minimize impact on joints.

Spread the Load

A large handle spreads the load on the hand.

Simple Movements

Rocking motions don’t require you to lift the masher.

OT Kevin Banfield Occupational Therapist Prototypes were evaluated and it was decided that the best way forward in order to include as many people as possible would be the wrist support design as the rocking motion strains the wrist. This will keep the wrist in a neutral position reducing the overall stresses.


I like the spiral!


Developed Prototypes


ed Prototy


One size fits all.

Ergonomic Comfort.


Material saver.

User Testing

User Tes


As part of a user centered design approach, testing prototypes with the intended user highlights new areas in the product still in need of further development.

Herr Schöneseiffen

The handle needs to be a little bit bigger to fit my hands.

Marlies Schöneseiffen

Wow! It’s much easier to mash and I can really feel the support.

Final Prototype

Final Pro


Mashing Element Several techniques were employed to create the mashing element. The first attempt using the 3D printer was too brittle. A functional prototype was made with stainless steel using a jig. For the visual prototype, an accurate jig was made using the CNC woodcutter. Acrylic rod was then heated with a heat gun and laid into the correct shape.

Handle In order to create the most aesthetic and accurate prototype the handle was made using the 3D printer.

All material and photography Š Alexandra Blischke 2010

Discovering Unmet Needs in the Kitchen: Research Book by Alexandra Blischke  

A research book detailing key steps in the dissertation work by Alexandra Blischke: Design Solutions for the Home by Discovering Unmet Needs...

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