[email protected]: tools for inclusion in the kitchen

Designing solutions which meet special needs, to favor independence and achieve social inclusion starting from the heart of our homes: the kitchen.
This is the purpose of the [email protected] project, launched through the call for ideas issued last November, which attracted about 140 entries from all over Italy. A big number in many senses, and by a happy coincidence it tallies with the 140th anniversary of Barilla's foundation, celebrated in 2017.
The partnership with a major firm like Barilla,"  stated Hackability coordinator Carlo Boccazzi Varotto, "has led to co-design in a real context, enabling us to tackle the challenge of independence in the kitchen, and increase the potential for social and cultural impacts."
The project, which officially kicked off on 20 January this year with the participation of the 50 selected finalists, involved a month-long period during which two worlds - design and disability - came together through the cooperation of inventors,  designers, diversely able people and Barilla staff. Sitting around the table, in an ideal meeting of minds, they joined forces to design improved packaging and new, customized cooking utensils.
A month-long co-design project focused on the invention of solutions for a better life, designed not only "for" but above all "with" the people who need them.
The final day (23 February) saw the presentation of six innovative projects, built, in line with the Hackability open source philosophy, with technologies available for adoption by the relevant community on a free-use basis. A program for the inclusion of diversities in line with Barilla's ethical and values horizon. This is a particularly broad horizon, embracing the promotion of a culture of openness and the celebration of differences, in an approach of constant commitment to achieving genuine improvements.
The six prototypes
On the concluding day of the event, the finalist groups shared their results, presenting and explaining the 6 prototypes built.
The solutions springing from [email protected] are capable of simplifying everyday life for more than a million people affected by motor disabilities in Italy alone. For many people with special needs, apparently banal, easy tasks can be a major obstacle, and it takes the understanding and appreciation of diversity to generate a way of overcoming the obstacle and allow the achievement of genuine equality.
The utensils developed during [email protected] include Sesamo, a bottle-opener and can-opener that can be used with just one hand.
For those affected by tremor-causing conditions such as Parkinson's disease, one group designed the Buona Forchetta, a miniaturized rotating fork with a replaceable head.
PiCAP is a set comprising a chopping-board and other kitchen utensils for cold food preparation for the visually impaired.
For opening cardboard packs effortlessly, to aid both people with mobility impairments and the general population, another group created the Rompiscatole, a support for fitting to the base of pasta packets.
The fifth finalist project, Hackbox, comprised two measures to meet the needs of the blind: the addition of embossed features to cardboard packs and a braille labeling service for products bought through e-commerce.
Artù, to conclude, is a brace that can be shaped to fit the arm of a tetraplegic patient: it is able to grip kitchen utensils with the aid of a motor-operated gripper
The Hackability project is completely in line with the company's commitment to issues of diversity, inclusion and equality," states Giancarlo Minervini, Barilla Vice President of Global Process Development and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Board. "It is a social sustainability project that encourages us to be more aware of physical and cognitive disabilities actually from the design phase, in order to plan (or rethink) ways offering a more accessible, balanced user experience."
Hackability and Barilla: a partnership for inclusion
[email protected] originates from values and objectives the two organizations share: diversity, inclusion and equality, a well-established integral part of the culture and code of ethics of the firm led by Guido Barilla and enshrined in the “Barilla Lighthouse” company strategy, which presents diversity as a fundamental aim.
To quote Barilla CEO Claudio Colzani: "Promoting Diversity and Inclusion does not only mean "doing the right thing"; it is also a way of achieving strategic growth. A diverse workforce and a culture of inclusion increase commitment and generate a deeper understanding of society, leading to a more robust decision-making process."
Therefore, for Barilla the inclusion of diversity is not only a substantial part of its identity but also a competitive advantage. Fully embracing the differences between human beings implies recognizing the wealth and added value they are able to contribute to the company.
The promotion of an open, inclusive culture and the sense of ethical responsibility that guide Barilla in the conduct of its business reflect the adoption of company policies and practices that celebrate diversity, offer equal opportunities, and respect and support LGBTI rights. Barilla sees equality, inclusion and the appreciation of every single individual as the foundation stones for the construction of fertile, sound human and professional capital.
[email protected] has been a splendid paradigm of this philosophy and the constant commitment that underlies it: because, leaving mere words aside, Barilla's ethics are defined and embodied in facts and its actions on the ground.


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