Inclusivity is still not top of mind in Product and Pack Design

In recent years we have seen a lot more accessible design solutions for both product and packaging design. But it’s still not top of mind.

The pack design for Degree INC is one good example. designed by adaptive design studio Sour and inclusive creative agency Wunderman Thomson.

“Being unable to access a basic utility like deodorant – something most people take for granted – has a huge impact on your ability to move and therefore your quality of life in general.”

Christina Mallon, team leader on project (a designer with reduced arm mobility).

So what makes this pack inclusive? It has many functions which can help a few different disabilities. An easy-grip shape and a larger roll-on applicator that can cover more surface area in one swipe.

“The cap also has a magnetic closure that allows it to be taken off and put on more easily by users with limited grip or visual impairment. The hooked lid also allows the deodorant to be hung to enable one-handed usage and the label features instructions in braille.” Dezeen.

Interesting how many disabilities can be aided through this pack. Grip/strength in hands/arms. This is something I have problems with as I suffer from PMR. There are so many packs that I cannot grip/or do not have the strength to open.

Visual impairment is also addressed here with the braille which certainly helps, but also the shape. But the visually impaired can also be helped through bold shapes and colours.


Here’s an example – Vision 20/20, by design studio Jones Knowles Ritchie and Revolt Communications. It’s a set of packs that feature large font and bold shapes that are easy to spot on the shelf or in a dark cupboard.

We call this type of design Human-centred design, Universal or Inclusive design. If you can design something for those with disabilities it usually benefits all users as we all have differing levels of disability at certain times in our lives. Its ethos is that products, systems and environments should be designed to be used by as many people as possible regardless of disability, age, gender or other demographic. The idea is, if you make things accessible for disabled people, you automatically make things easier for everyone

Image courtesy of Yanko Design.

Another example that I use in my Inclusive design lectures is the Slipwash which is really targeted to those who have difficulties in washing clothes when wheelchair bound. The door which slides upwards allows the wheelchair user to get closer to the machine with their wheelchair. The usual washing machine takes up more space with the front opening door and makes it harder for the user to navigate around with a wheelchair. Even in the drum washing machine, the height of the opening makes it difficult for a person in the wheelchair to use it.

Recent statistics show that one in four Europeans have a disability. So why aren’t more products or packs taking this into account? In the case of packaging, it is not valued enough yet, it is still seen as a recycling mechanism or something which is thrownaway, and perhaps when we value packaging more, durable, more accessible solutions will start to exist.

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