Joy needs to be allowed to arrive, it requires courage to make mistakes or be disappointed. To try again, to fall and get up until we find the way. It is listening to what you know in your heart and letting yourself be what you want. My joy is the ability to see the world not just as it is, but as it could be.
Cassit is a design studio located in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Founded 6 years ago, it specializes in product design for people with disabilities. We work with therapists, designers and engineers to produce comprehensive and innovative solutions for challenges brought to us by people with disabilities. We also produce low cost orthopedic wrist supports for people from low income backgrounds in Africa. We want to change the world for people with disabilities and bring more joy into their lives.
We strive to create awareness and mutual responsibility among all people. This blog is written by Tamar, an industrial designer and the founder and CEO of Cassit Studio.
At first there is rage. Eight years ago, as an industrial design student, I could never accept why there is so little joy in solutions for people with disabilities. Why are those products engineered to work in one way, which is often different than what we are used to, why do those products create embarrassment rather than pleasantness? Once I decided to change that, I looked for the opposite. It took me a long time to define: is the challenge the sense of competence, independence, affordability? Eventually I distilled the emotion from these aspects: it was joy. We are allowed to live with joy- it is possible, with or without disabilities. Joy is the main goal that leads our projects, which allow people to return and perform the activities they love and desire. We were fortunate to give people back abilities such as playing an instrument, cooking for one's children, taking a picture, playing tennis, writing in class, being patient and brave to express one's will. Our customers’ joy is the measure of our success in each project.
The same way
The vast majority of us wants to be a part of society, one that simply accepts us as we are. Industrial designers plan products that dictate the way we are as perceived by ourselves and by others. Designers shape our clothes, our accessories, our houses, our cars. We want to have enough, we want to feel proud and satisfied. What is enough – it is individual, but the way people with disabilities reduce their expectations, their "enough" - that just makes me sad. It happens according to the solutions that exist in the market and according to the society's poor attitudes towards them as second-class customers and as people without desires. The first impulse I had while working with people with disabilities, was to make them believe that almost anything is possible. I was surprised to see how feasible it was: "anything" could be playing a guitar, eating with proper fork, frying potatoes for the children – reachable goals for a designer. Second, I noticed how tiresome products can be and how some of them force a person to adopt new and unnatural movements. Instead of redesigning the tool to be suitable one's abilities – some products make the people feel uncomfortable or change the way they are accustomed to using them. Why not use a tool like everyone else? Why not cut a potato with a high quality knife, why not play the guitar you love while holding a pick, even if you can't use your fingers? It is possible.
Cassit Studio's Lap-Slide-Guitar Splints: orthopedic hand supports with a pick and a slider attached to them, to play a guitar that sits on one's lap.
It is always a challenge: how can I bring pleasant feeling through the experience of using a product I design? One of the methods I use is to investigate what kind of feelings and skills the action require. For example, eating tools: When someone is eating, he needs skills such as accuracy, gentle movements, chewing, swallowing, sitting up straight and communicating with the other people around the table. He wants to feel independent, dignified, satisfied, and he would love to be able to eat the tasty food he likes. He would like to stay clean and eat in a nice rhythm. All those things people without dining difficulties take for granted.
After I understand and solve the technical aspect of an independent eating, I try to take care of the other aspects of the user experience: how will he wear the eating tool, how will he take it off? How will he clean it, where will he store it? All those small solutions create pleasantness in the total experience. Then I design the tool's appearance to my satisfaction, taking into consideration the esthetic preferences of my customer, and similarities to the products that exist in the trendy housewares stores. I will try to design it as a beautiful shelf-product. I will use high quality materials and produce long lasting sustainable and personal instrument.
Cassit Studio's Eating-Support-Rings are attached to stainless steel fork. The transparent plastic rings are bent over the person’s fingers using hot water and keep their custom shape. They allow the user to hold the fork in a natural position and perform independent eating. They are durable, easy to clean and personal.
Cassit Studio's cooking knife holds one of the best blades in the market, imported from Germany. It allows a person to hold it using full grip, but perform gentle and accurate movements. This colorful chef knife is suitable for most of the cooking activities we perform in the kitchen. After its purchase, it is customized to the customer's hand; it can be bent using hot water, and it keeps its shape, just like the fork rings.
Joy can be ignited in a very early stage. It starts with the therapist's attitude to the patient, continues with the customized tool's appearance, and validates by the feeling of competence. Joy can start with a conversation with a new customer in my studio; Thinking together about the different ways to approach a challenge, sometimes plants a seed of happiness in my customer's heart. Joy needs to be allowed to arrive, it requires courage to make mistakes or be disappointed. To try again, to fall and get up until we find the way. It is listening to what you know in your heart and letting yourself be what you want. My joy is the ability to see the world not just as it is, but as it could be.