In Japan, a mother works to build an inclusive child seat that closes the gap between children with and without disabilities.
Globally, some 240 million children live with a disability. Yet it’s a cohort that doesn’t always get the design attention it deserves. Yuri Matsumoto, a Japanese mother of a young boy with cerebral palsy, wanted to design a supportive child seat for children with physical challenges, one that would allow them access and ease in everyday activities at school, on the playground, and during family outings. IDEO worked on the development of an innovative chair design, a bold visual identity, and business strategies that propelled Matsumoto to start her own business.
IKOU portable chair officially launcheD
5 restaurants and cafés
in Tokyo ARE CURRENTLY PILOTING the chair
The Japanese health ministry categorizes 9.6 million people as disabled.
In Japan, children with disabilities are largely excluded from mainstream classrooms. Government subsidized support chairs are designed for posture and stability. Their bulk and rigidity make venturing out with them challenging.
Japanese children have fewer opportunities to learn about what it’s like to live with a disability than in the U.S.
For children with physical disabilities and their families, mobility is freedom. But in Japan, there are barriers to that freedom of movement.
In raising a child with cerebral palsy, Yuri Matsumoto found that her son was separated from other kids during everyday activities. In Japan, children’s products are divided into two categories: those for children with disabilities and those for children without. Matsumoto aspired to close this gap with a product that would allow children of all abilities to use the same chair and be included in the same activities. To realize her idea, Matsumoto needed a strategic design company to refine the chair design, create a compelling visual identity, and arrive at a product road map to help set the business up for long-term success.
The result: a breakthrough product and supporting business that provides access for all kids, both for at-home activities like studying and eating, and also for family outings to restaurants, to the park, and to play with friends. Around the world, there are people like Matsumoto who see the need for better products in a very personal way. IDEO’s role is to help them realize their vision for a more inclusive future.
“I usually buy products for my son with disabilities because they are necessary. With Ikou, I buy their products because I like their design and simply want them.”
Mother of four children, one of whom has a physical disability
Special thanks to all the parents and their children who inspired us to create an inclusive product.