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Designing for Everyone

Design, of course, is about more than just making things attractive – it’s about making them useful, and for everyone who needs them. As a culture, we continue fine-tuning products and places to integrate elderly and disabled citizens into everyday life with as few obstacles as possible. That’s a good thing, because we’re all aging and we never know what our capabilities might be tomorrow.

The Inclusive Design movement – also referred to as Design for All and Universal Design – took shape in the 1970s. Equal opportunity activists began to include the field of design in their demands. And with the Americans with Disabilities Act , which became law in 1990, public spaces everywhere were required to accommodate most visitors through features such as wider doorways, accessible light switches, electrical outlets and thermostats, grab bars in bathrooms and kitchens configured to allow wheelchair movement.

TOTO thinks in terms of the bathroom, of course, but there are numerous ways that our interest in Inclusive Design is reflected throughout society. The Ford Focus automobile, for example, was designed with older drivers in mind – it has extra headroom, its doors and seats are higher, and the controls are larger and easier to locate. And 25 years ago, a retired CEO founded a new company exclusively to design kitchen gadgets to help home cooks with limited hand functions. The inspiration? His wife, and her arthritic hands. Soon, the OXO/Good Grips brand of easy-to-handle implements was born.

Today, inclusion seems like a natural part of the design process, but it wasn’t always so. And TOTO is proud to lead the industry with inclusive products that are easier to use – but that always feature our exclusive designs and global aesthetic.