Kyoto in the autumn when the maple leaves are changing colour is a spectacular time for visitors. But the five designers from Design Business Association (DBA) member companies barely had a chance to glance outside the windows of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace at Ritsumeikan University where they were for 48 hours. They were in Kyoto at the invitation of the International Association of Universal Design (IAUD), to lead five teams of in-house designers from Japan's leading companies as they competed in the 48-Hour Inclusive Design Challenge. It was held as part of IAUD's 2nd International Conference for Universal Design, which took place from 22-26 October 2006.
The designers were all veterans of the seven DBA Inclusive Design Challenges organised by the HHRC since 2000 - John Bateson from Corporate Edge, Adrian Berry from Factory Design, John Corcoran from Wire Design, Tim Fendley from AIG and Stuart May of PDD.
They had to grapple with a new cultural context and language while Japanese designers had to abandon corporate loyalties since their team members were from rival firms. Designers from Nissan worked with those from Toyota, Sony and Panasonic and in the process a new cross-company network was formed of designers who will take the challenge of inclusive design into new iterations for the future.
The teams worked with a single disabled user introduced by the disability arts organisation Tanpopo no Ie and with language support from bi-lingual students at Ritsumeikan, Kyoto and Kyushu Universities.
After the brief was revealed on 23 October, the teams worked to a 48-hour time limit. The first 24 hours, were devoted to field research, brainstorming with their user, issue extraction, storyboarding and design development while the remaining 24 were spent synthesizing the design and producing a six-minute presentation. On the final day they made their presentations at the Takaragaike International conference hall before conference delegates. Awards for the best design and the best presentation were made after public judging by conference participants.
The teams were asked to address the theme of lifestyle, leisure or sport, alone in or in combination, and the challenge was to design a mainstream product, service, environment, print, online or other communication which deliberately included the needs and aspirations of young disabled people.