Paying tribute to a true pioneer
Published: 4 Apr 2014
In the same year that “Bridge Over Troubled Water” blared from the speakers of almost every home and passing car, Maria Benktzon joined Veryday. Earlier that year she graduated from Stockholm’s Royal College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Very much a rebel when it came to existing traditions, Maria began to apply an inclusive, user-centric approach to design. She was child of the times, trying to make the world a better place for everyone.
Maria soon found her counterpart in Sven-Erik Juhlin, and together they created kitchenware, cutlery and personal hygiene tools that allow users to remain independent despite weakening strength and dexterity of hands and upper limbs. These items allow many differently-abled people to maintain personal dignity and make life less of a chore for them. Among Maria’s numerous designs are crutches, canes and clothing specifically designed for ease of use; the SAS coffeepot and milk tray; Doro phones for the elderly; Tupperware knives and protective work gloves for Ejendals.
All of these products were developed in close collaboration with the end user and with the utmost intention to harmonize form and function. Maria has beautified ergonomics and as such, her work has gained worldwide recognition and awards. She received the Ron Mace “Designing for the 21st Century” Award in 2000 and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Include Conference in London. Maria’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and London’s Design Museum. Numerous other contemporary design exhibitions feature her work.
To our great dismay, Maria has now retired from Veryday after more than 40 years. But always young at heart, she will never retire in the traditional sense and remains active behind the scene as our “super expert” for Inclusive Design challenges. Not only does she inspire designers but she reminds us of the type of person that many of us would like to be: kind-hearted, empathetic and down-to-earth.