This past week was the last week of my semester working at Mees, however, I will be returning next spring semester. While I have been with Mees over two years now, I have learned that everyday brings a new experience and learning opportunity. This past Thursday was one of those days that I found to be very impactful and humbling due to two walk-in customers who were looking to replace their 19″x36″ vanity top.
The two customers were a mother accompanied by her 20 plus year old son who was legally blind. When I began working with the mother for a new vanity top for her son’s bathroom, I observed how she would reiterate information I had explained to her back to her son and asked if he would like to walk with using his own cane. He responded yes and followed in tow using his cane to help detect stationary objects around him. We had walked to the very back of the showroom at a slow pace so that his mother could help give her son some direction around the center display booths and tables.
Once we reached the back of the showroom, I reviewed Mee’s different granite, marble and quartz products that she could consider. To best understand what the stones were and felt like, the son used his sense of touch to feel the surface texture of the slabs while using his cane to detect objects his feet. There was one granite, called Black Pearl, that had a leathered finish it to it. It was interesting to see how the mother informed her son about the different stone finish and directed his hand to feel it’s different abrasions and texture. The son’s face lit up when he recognized its different surface texture/tactile finish and was able to contribute to the conversation. He paused for a moment and then posed a question about whether this particular finish would cause the stone to be more porous or sensitive to different elements. I let them know to the best of my knowledge that all natural stone must be sealed at least once a year, however, leathered finsih can do a better job of concealing smudges, marks, etc.
After reviewing the different granites, the mother found herself to be a fan of the Black Absolute 3cm and wanted to go over the different edge profiles for the vanity top. I brought her over a large diamond shaped piece of granite that displayed all of the different edge profiles she could have. After she felt them herself, directed her sons hand and told him to get a feel of the different edges. She smiled at me and whispered how it was important that he knew and understood the edges since he will be using the bathroom and that the sharper edges were something they should avoid. Her son used both his hands to scope and examine the different profiles while reviewing what each were aloud. This was really exciting to see take place as in school we discuss designing with ADA and universal design in mind; however, I have yet to experience a real life design scenario where I see first hand how design really does impact others who may not have access to all five sense we are born with.
The son was able to provide us with his opinion on each and decided that safety and price point played a role in their decision of the demi-bullnose edge. For those who may not be familiar with a bullnose edge, it is one where the exterior edge is rounded all the way over and under, therefore it has a radius. The demi-bullnose edge is rounded on the top edge but has a 90 degree corner on the bottom side of the top. Below, I have include a drawing that indicated the different edge profiles that one could specify.
Overall, my experience on Thursday working with these two customers was extremely pleasant and humbling. I felt like I gained an even greater perspective on design and how important designing for our clients really is. Not only is design tackled from an aesthetic standpoint, but it must be approached from a health, safety, and functional standpoint, as well.
link to image source: http://dfwgranite.com/options/edge-profiles/