Sha Yao is a industrial designer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She runs Sha Design, a studio which serves small-to-medium sized companies and nonprofits in the United States through product development and consulting.
Late last year Yao successfully funded the Eatwell campaign through Indiegogo. The set, which Yao is preparing to launch, offers design which makes it easier for people with motor and cognitive disabilities to eat on their own. It was inspired by Yao’s late grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Yao states on the campaign’s web site:
“When my grandmother was first diagnosed with the disease, I began volunteering at senior care centers to learn more about the condition. I noticed that for many people with Alzheimer’s, the act of eating could be difficult and extremely frustrating, and as a result, people with Alzheimer’s often eat less than what is healthy for them. Because spilled foods and drinks are so common, the burden on caregivers and staff from cleaning up accidents as well as motivating their care recipients to eat the proper amount of food can become extremely challenging.”
Yao’s set includes nine pieces that makes eating easier for people like her grandmother. The set is split in to yellow and red colors, the former for solid foods and the latter for soups and liquids. Each includes a bowl, a spoon and an anti-tipping cup with a lid.
The bowls have slanted basins which collect foods to one side for easier gathering. The other side has a right angle, making it easier to scoop against. Their colors are meant to stimulate appetite. The spoon for each set matches the curvatures of the bowls exactly. The spoon handles are curved to fit easily into a person’s hand. A tab on the bowl allows the user to keep a grip on it.
The set also includes a tray which has an area to attach a bib, thus preventing food from falling on the floor. The set as a whole is made with an anti-slip material to prevent spills.
Yao’s set won first place at the 2014 Standford Design Challenge.
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4 thoughts on "Design + Not Clay But… | Sha Yao: Eatwell Tableware for Special Needs"
I would love to see footage of user testing! This seems like it could be a joyous eating experience. Bright colors, sensible form, a low risk eating experience. Also, what about special napkins that match the sensibilities of the tray? Maybe with a catch in case of bigger spills? Keeping food off the floor is great, but it’s easier to clean food off the floor than out of your lap and pockets, or even your underwear if it soaks quickly… I love this set!
You are spot on with the napkins. That is a huge design element in this set, and seems to be carefully thought through so that clean up is a breeze. Here is a link to the indigogo campaign that funded this set. There is a video that shows it being used and also the napkin. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/eatwell-tableware-for-people-with-special-needs
Beautifully functional looking shapes. I wonder if the colors are off putting for the user? Hope I don’t need to use them someday!
Hi Suzanne – I hope neither of us have to use it, but so glad it is there is we need it. The designer picked the colors following a study that people with dementia consumer 24% more food and 84% more liquid when using brightly colored tableware.