Today, kitchens last at least 20 years. But hardly anyone thinks of their needs as an elderly person when buying a kitchen. Blum, represented by Blum Australia , use a special overall called an Age Explorer to research into these needs.

Kitchen buyers hardly think about what it will be like to use their conventionally equipped kitchens when they get older. They forget that their joints might get stiffer; that they might find it difficult to grip items securely; and that climbing onto a chair, for example, to reach items in high cabinets could be a dangerous undertaking.

The same applies to having to bend down to open doors on base units. This puts a great strain on backs and knees and can be very painful to users in the long term.

Age Explorer creates a better understanding

For many years now, Austrian fittings manufacturer Blum have done extensive research into the needs of kitchen users of all ages in order to develop fittings systems that facilitate everyday kitchen use. Recently the company have also used the Age Explorer.

This special overall shows wearers how strength might wane because arms and legs stiffen with old age or because of a physical handicap. Special gloves with a rough surface on the inside show how fingers become less sensitive than those of young people. The gloves simulate arthritis. A helmet restricts the field of vision and shows wearers how difficult it might be to differentiate between colours. Special headphones dampen voices and noises. The subject feels these physical impediments within a few minutes and immediately experiences what effect they have on, for example, everyday kitchen use.

Solutions that provide comfort – a furniture lifetime

The insights gained from this research are continuously leading to new fittings ideas and solutions that suit the needs of every age group and provide enhanced user convenience. For example, the dynamic space concept for kitchens which facilitates everyday kitchen use and is tailored to the individual needs of kitchen users.

The concept is based on the following ideas: provide enough storage space, plan the kitchen in zones according to workflow and make sure food, utensils and gadgets are stored in the right place – that is to say, within easy reach and exactly where the user need them.

Another important factor is the right equipment of kitchens. For example, use full extensions which allow the user to access items at the back of drawers, and use lift systems which lift up and out of the user’s way and give him direct access to contents.

Blum's developments all focus on the kitchen user; his/her needs and demands in terms of design, function and comfort – at every age and in every physical condition.