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Inspired By Her Grandmother, This Designer is Making Custom Tableware to Improve the Lives of Dementia Patients

“Eatwell” merges form and function to make the simple act of feeding oneself easier, and more dignified for those suffering from cognitive impairments.

image via youtube screencapture

After her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, industrial designer Sha Yao set out to learn more about the disease, and see how Alzheimer’s patients—as well as those with similar cognitive impairments—went about their lives. While volunteering at a nearby senior care facility, Yao realized that patients with dementia were experiencing particular difficulties around the simple act of feeding themselves. Both the mental and accompanying physical challenges of dementia make eating a particularly labor-intensive exercise, one for which standard silverware, flatware, and drinking implements offer no specific remedy.


With that in mind, Yao created Eatwell, a complete tableware set created specifically for patients suffering from cognitive impairments.

From the materials used to the shapes—and even the colors—of Eatwell’s bowls, plates, silverware, and cups, each design decision was made with a specific purpose in mind:

image via youtube screen capture

The set includes angled bowls with 90-degree rims, which allow food to collect at one side, and be scooped with ease:

image via eatwell

image via eatwell

Spoons that are contoured to perfectly align with bowl edges:

image via eatwell

image via eatwell

Wide-base cups and flat-handle based mugs, to prevent tipping:

image via eatwell

image via eatwell

Even the tray itself is built with tabs to hold aprons or bibs, thereby helping prevent diners from spilling on themselves:

image via eatwell

As Yao explains in her crowdfunding video, Eatwell is designed make the simple act of eating—whether feeding one’s self, or being fed by a caregivers—an easier, more effective, more dignified process. It’s a message that’s found a receptive audience. Yao’s Eatwell crowdfunding campaign blew past its fundraising goal this past winter, and her designs were awarded top prize at the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge.

Unfortunately, while Eatwell backers were originally promised their tableware sets this month, manufacturing delays have pushed delivery dates back until the issue is resolved, explained Yao in a mid-July update. Still, she expects orders will be back on schedule in a matter of months. In the meantime, anyone interested in purchasing an Eatwell set can pre-order one on Yao’s (fully funded) indiegogo page.

[via psfk]

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