Maybe it's Ergonomics

I’ve been working on kitchen tools recently, but I have yet to come across specific references for handle to hand ergonomics. The Measure of Man has limited information on that subject, so any other suggestions would be very helpful to me.

Oxo is a huge influence of course, but I need to move beyond using their products as examples and actually have some concrete info to back up my decisions.

That leads me to other questions about ergonomics in general: Is its purpose to average out the size and perception of a given market to create a “universal size?” Is it designing for the extremes that eventually leads to accessible products for all? Will handles from now on only be perceived as ergonomic is their big and covered in soft grip? Is that how it should be?

Also, with all of this perceived knowledge about ergonomics, is it wrong to design a line of handles that is knowingly NOT ergonomic?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

The ergonomics you are talking about (ID ergonomics) is only the very tip of the human factors iceberg.

I think the answer to what you are asking is that the idea is to catch as much of the population as possible. Imagine a bell curve (if you can’t look it on on google) there is a place a the top of the curve in the middle where your ergo blob shape (as it will inevitably take the form of) will be a good fit in the hands of a few people, but it will not be completely obnoxious for the rest of us, and will just flat out not work for the people at the tail ends of the curve.

Ergonomics and human factors entails a lot more than just how blobby tool shapes fit in your hands, maybe check out the HF and E society here :

Much of what I do, for instance, it perception, and cognition in interaction and graphic design. I’m probably closest to the line of people who work on airplane and automobile cockpits.

Anthropometric data will provide you with exact sizes you need to build.
Not sure if that was obvious with the mention of ergonomics but it wasn’t mentioned :blush:

Also note that there was a lot of focus groups and user testing in the development of the Oxo line. All the hard data in the world doesn’t equal the feed back of one real person using the tool.

Your questions are a blend of ergonomics and marketing. Ergonomics has many quantitative data points as well as some qualitative data. Your comment about big soft grips as “ergonomic” has some of both quantitative/qualitative measurements and marketing. Marketing has created the perception that big and soft is ergonomic reality. If your studies point otherwise, you will have a large hurdle to overcome. Does your company want to spend the resources to get over that is something they need to decide.

Universal design tries to accomodate everyone under the bell curve. I don’t know if there is an exact definition but if you fall within 2 standard deviations of the mean, you are covering about 96% of the population. That’s a nice market size. You can get the extreme ends, but it adds only another 4% of the population. Most businesses won’t care about the 4%.

Also, you can be “universal” yet skew to a specific demographic. For example, in the pathology lab, a significant percentage of the techs are in the Asian ethnic group. As a group, they skew to the smaller side of the bell curve. You then use that as your mean, which changes your standard deviations. You still accomodate most of the population but the tall northern European male may get left out.

If you want to spend about $1,500, I would recommend the 3 sets of Humanscale charts by Niels Diffrient. They are out of print but they have more information than the Measure of Man book. I went as far to ask the publisher for rights to reproduce the charts. They won’t reprint because there is not enough of a market in their eyes. I was going to do it on a cottage industry scale. They said no.

yeah, it’s silly at this point they don’t just do print on demand or something, I mean if you or I could print 100 copies of a book, what are they talking about too small of a market?!

we aren’t small, we’re elite…