Student Kevin Chiam Yong Sheng’s Folks Kitchenware for the Blind has been recognised with a series of awards and has now been patented by National University of Singapore. The products are being licensed to Mighty Jaxx for production.
Kevin (who hales from The National University of Singapore and is currently studying postgraduate courses in London) was the joint first place winner of the 2019 Student Design Competition at Chicago’s IH+HS (International Home + Housewares Show, organised by the IHA). Folks Kitchenware for the Blind also earned Kevin the prestigious title of National Winner of the James Dyson Award in 2018 and the gold prize in last year’s Taiwan International Student Design Competition.
The Folks Kitchenware set includes a knife with a retractable guard, which acts as a physical anchor and guides fingers during cutting and whose trigger release assists in cleaning. It also includes a chopping board with a side tray to gather and transfer ingredients. There is also a teaspoon with a floating buoy that informs the user of impending contact with fluid, thus lowering injury risk.
Kevin admits he has always been curious about “how and why things function –whether it is an elaborate machine like a television or a structurally less complex object like a clothes peg.” However, the drive to create Folks Kitchenware for the Blind came from Kevin’s experience as a volunteer for Touch Homecare Community Services, an organisation that aids less-privileged seniors.
The young designer explains: “Among the individuals I have met, several are visually challenged because of medical conditions like diabetes. They all have an unusual and common feature on their hands and forearms: scabs and scars. Such marks are the result of unfortunate attempts at cooking and it is a common concern within the community.”
Kevin then immersed himself in a world of darkness via an orientation session with “Dialogue in the Dark” to experience typical situations that VI (Visually Impaired) people would encounter. He states: “Gripped by anxiety and fear during the initial walk-through in a simulated dark space, the unexpectedly sobering visit provided an insightful glimpse into the challenges they face. The trip also encouraged me to delve deeper into potential areas, such as cooking, where it can be made safer and pleasant.”
- The 2020 Student Design Competition winners will be at The Inspired Home Show, the new name for Chicago’s IH+HS (March 14-17 2020). Visit housewares.org or TheInspiredHomeShow.com
Top: The Folks’ knife provides a safer method of cutting for the Visually Impaired.