Health hardware - a design journey

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Christian Tietz has assembled a book of health hardware design solutions spanning close to 20 years. This covers wood stoves, taps, plugs, yard furniture and much much more.

The introduction is reproduced below for your interest. HH is trying to convince Christian to make a larger print run of the book ... if you are interested in a copy - contact HH now.

A design journey

The term health hardware was originally coined by Dr. Fred Hollows, and refers to the hardware equipment required to provide a healthy living environment.

For example for washing hands this would be a suitable water supply, a working water pump, working water pipes, a hand wash basin, a working tap, a fixed towel rail/hook, the presence of soap, a soap dish for storing the soap, a working plug, a working drain and waste water pipes leading to a waste water system.

In other words all the physical things required to carry out basic health supporting activities.
This brings Industrial Design into play, as it is Industrial Designers who design most of this equipment.

The work in this book is a collection of design interventions over a period of about 20 years and showcases how Industrial Design can make a contribution towards better Australian Indigenous environmental health.

The work is not glamorous and within the profession generally it is not perceived as sexy or high profile and on its own not enough to sustain a professional practice - yet it is of significant importance.
Interestingly there is not much talk about appliances, fixtures and fittings in the Indigenous housing debate.

The focus seems mainly on innovation in construction materials and techniques, on a more economic delivery of Indigenous housing and participation in the building process. Very little consideration appears to be given to the kind of equipment required to make a house a reliable healthy living environment. 

There are few if any documented discussions for example about what type of washing machine is better suited for remote areas or what kind of electric stove would work best in such a setting.

It is as if these appliances, fixtures and fittings don’t exist in this context.
Or if they do, they are expected to perform in a remote environment with no maintenance, poor service provision, more intense use and unreliable utility quality as well as in a maintenance and service rich urban environment with a highly calibrated and minutely monitored utility supply. These two performance environments are incomparable and if the products for latter don’t work in the former - it is the user fault!

The common suggestions that ‘they’ need education and training to use appliances is not fair. Health hardware is an attempt to provide product based solutions towards a reliable healthy living environment.

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