Creating Inclusive Restaurants
Through Sensory Experience Design
Principal Design Researcher
As part of my master's degree at OCAD University I worked as a Design Researcher with a memory clinic called Kawartha Centre. The focus of the project was on experience design to improve the dining experience for individuals with mild dementia and their loved ones. The scope of the project was on the sensory design elements within a restaurant setting.
May 2017- June 2018
Dr. Jenifer Ingram, Dr. Gayle Nicoll, Job Rutgers
I ran interviews and diary studies with diverse stakeholders. I planned, recruited, moderated, analyzed, and developed guidelines and tools. I found partners and raised funds for the research.
The majority of individuals living with mild to moderate stages of dementia live independently in their communities. They are still active, but often do not engage in activities they used to. They are challenged by lack of support to take part in activities they used to do such as dining out. Some key issues in a restaurant setting include lack of appropriate social connection, a difficult-to-navigate environment, the lack of staff training, a visually complex table setting, noisy background, poor signage and difficult to read menus.
Approach | Methods
To allow for contribution of diverse stakeholders in the design process I used design thinking approach and followed its main stages, including discovery (empathize and define), ideation, prototyping, testing, and implementation.
My introduction of the project is available on Restaurants Canada website:
My full report of the project and guidelines are available at:
Design Guidelines Final design
The outcome of the project was a set of Memory-Friendly Restaurant Design Guidelines. The final prototype of the guidelines is the product of multiple iterations of accumulated knowledge, participants input, and review. This set of design guidelines is based on evidence-based practices and best practices in dementia-friendly design. Additionally, it is validated by different groups of stakeholders, including individuals with memory impairment and their families as experts on their own experiences. Other experts in this field, including a geriatrician, an interior designer and a restaurateur were all consulted. Design guidelines which include the memory related context provides deeper understanding for individuals who are interested in attracting individuals with memory impairment to their establishment.
This guideline document is at an entry level of open discussion in this area; therefore, further research and refinement of the guidelines is anticipated.
Final report promoted by Restaurants Canada and non-profit research hub to great success.
Final report now is being used in Mosaic Home care Services as a guideline and resource to train social workers.
This guideline is shared as a resource on the BIG IDeA website available here: