Blum is an assistive dining plate that aims to help people living with dementia to regain their independence. With Blum, dining becomes engaging and enjoyable regardless of motor skill ability. Blum was created by me and three of my peers with input from Baycrest’s Subject Matter Experts. Blum was exhibited at DesignTO where the exhibit and our design each won an award.

Project Context

Blum was created as part of OCAD U's Design for Health course held offsite at Baycrest Hospital in 2019. We were tasked with designing assistive products for people living with dementia, their caregivers, and their families. Our solution sought to reflect the individual abilities, needs, and wants of clients and care providers at the Samuel Lunenfeld Mountainview Club at Baycrest Hospital. Our design solution quickly became a solution that helped many individuals, not just those with dementia, to regain their independence during mealtimes, including myself as I would be diagnosed with bone tumours in each of my wrists halfway through the project. While my bone tumour issue has been remedied, this project reminded me that designing for extreme users benefits everyone, good design is inclusive, and empathy is a designer’s greatest superpower.
Baycrest Hospital (Student Project at OCAD University)
Healthcare, product design, inclusive design
My Role
Each team member was involved in the entire product design from research to conception, visualization and testing.

All design work shown on this page was completed as a group, with the exception of CAD Renderings which were informed by the group and developed solely by team member and master CAD designer, Colin Lynch.
Hadas Green, Jasmine Khnanishoo, and Colin Lynch
4 months

The Challenge

People living with dementia and their caregivers can face a variety of difficulties due to the physical and mental limitations characterized with the condition. How might we identify challenges at Baycrest's Mountainview Club and design new solutions to positively impact the delivery of functional and emotional care and improve patient well-being?

The Solution

Blum is an assistance dining plate that provides people living with dementia a more physically enabling and mentally stimulating eating experience. Compared to existing products, operating within a similar market-space, our dish provides multi-modal assistance for users living with dementia as well as limited mobility. Through form, along with the deliberate application of colour, Blum provides a less stigmatizing, yet elegant dining experience whether it’s at home or the hospital.

Awards & Recognition

Juror's Choice Award: Individual Design
Best in Festival: Exhibition


A rendering of two of the same cream coloured, irregularly shaped dishes with red accents on a black background. The dish on the left shows that the product has higher edges on two of its four sides, sloping inward, and painted with a red interior. The dish on the right shows a red patterned silicone bottom on the dish.



Why did we do secondary research?

We completed preliminary research on the four kinds of dementia (Alzheimer’s, Mixed Dementia, Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia). We sought to investigate the issues that could affect individuals living with dementia from doing required daily activities and to understand how it is affected by their specific disability.
A pink, red, and cream coloured graphic showing the 8 A's of Dementia. 1. Anosogonosia, is difficulty recognizing, reasoning; lack of awareness. 2. Agnosia, is difficult recognizing things through the five senses. 3. Aphasia, is lost ability to use or decode language; difficulty speaking, understanding, reading, and writing. 4. Apraxia, is difficulty sequencing, carrying out purposeful movement and speech. 5. Altered perception, when you misinterpret the information your senses are giving you. 6. Amnesia, loss of memory, short-term and long-term. 7. Apathy, difficulty taking initiative. 8. Attention deficits, difficulty paying attention, focussing.
Secondary Research Graphic: The 8 A's of Dementia refer to the eight common cognitive disabilities in all types of dementia. While not every person with dementia will experience all of the eight A’s, it’s important to be aware of them in order to appropriately navigate the symptoms and provide a high quality of life for each individual living with dementia.

How did this impact the final design?

Our meticulous secondary research gave us a better understanding of the disease and the many ways the condition presents itself, which enriched our other research methods and overall design because it allowed us to learn from and better empathize with Mountainview’s clients, at every stage of the design process.

Primary Research

Why did we conduct primary research?

We completed primary research, specifically Observation Research, because it allowed us to develop insights into the daily interactions of the clients at Baycrest Mountainview. With knowledge gained through observations, we were better equipped to develop formal solutions that meaningfully addressed the problems our clients were facing.
Consistent Observations include clients being disinterested or easily distracted from present tasks, spilling food and drink on one self, struggling to identify and hold utensils, struggling to identify the food they were eating, rejecting help from care staff despite needing assistance, short-term memory loss, and sudden, frequent mood swings.
Observational Research Graphic: For our observational research session, we were invited to join Mountainview clients during lunchtime. We engaged in conversations with clients whilst making written observations throughout our interactions. Each member on our team transcribed and synthesized their observations, which were then combined to reflect consistent, recurring observations, and categorized with the 8 A's of dementia, where applicable.

How did this impact the final design?

We determined barriers related to the dining environment, especially the food utensils and dishware, were the most major barriers preventing clients from enjoying an engaging, independent, and dignified dining experience. This information would guide our insights and design criteria.


What are the root problems contributing to issues during mealtime?

Non-inclusive Dishware

While clients may be more familiar with the appearance of the run-of-the-mill dishware used at the Mountainview Club, it has not been designed for individuals living with dementia. Individuals experiencing the symptom Apraxia may struggle to identify and successfully use the provided utensils and cups.

Stigmatizing Assistive Devices

Of the inclusive, assistive devices that are being utilized by Mountainview, many clients refuse to use them due to the stigmatizing, demeaning design. For example, clients are offered bibs to avoid spilling food on their clothing during mealtime, but many clients refuse the bibs because they feel bibs are infantilizing.

Non-functional Dishware

The plates, bowls, and cups used at the Mountainview Club are ceramic. This causes for breakage from clients and Personal Support Workers alike, due to issues such as apraxia and anosognosia and heaviness, respectively. Regardless of the lack of inclusivity in the design of their current dishware, having heavy, easily broken dishware in a busy, active environment is not ideal.

Standardized Meals

Clients and their caregivers are not included in the creation of lunchtime menus beyond accommodating dietary restrictions. As a result, clients struggle to identify what food they’re eating, which is exasperated by symptoms such as agnosia and altered perception, making the food unappetizing and the eating experience disengaging.

How did this impact the final design?

We determined the functional and emotional needs of Mountainview’s clients and staff and synthesized our insights into a design brief, focussing on designing dishware solutions for the full spectrum of dementia types and symptoms.


In the Discover stage we determined...


How might we redesign tableware for those living with dementia to provide them with an easier, more engaging dining experience?


Clients living with dementia deserve to be as independent as possible and enjoy an engaging, dignified quality of life regardless of their condition; their loved ones and caregivers want to provide them with the highest quality of life possible, which is what Mountainview seeks to provide. By developing dishware specifically for the emotional and physical needs and wants of Mountainview’s clients, we can remedy the current issues surrounding mealtime and improve the dining experience.


By creating a solution that allows for a seamless, independent mealtime at Mountainview, clients will experience an improved quality of life because they can better enjoy their mealtimes and benefit from having a more nutritious diet. In addition, by making utensils and dishware more accessible for clients to use, Personal Support Workers and other staff members can focus on other tasks with clients during their mealtime. Finally, our proposed dishware products could be used in a non-hospital setting as well, easing caregivers and families’ responsibilities.


Why did we complete market research?

We researched existing solutions on the market to understand why Mountainview had not implemented other dishware solutions and to determine where current solutions are failing. This information would inform our design criteria.
Market Research Feature Mapping: Existing solutions are unintuitive, introduce new problems such as giving support staff more tasks to fulfill than with the current model, or have stigmatizing, unattractive features clients are unlikely to engage with.

Design Criteria

Design Criteria distilled into Must, Should, and Could categories. The design must make eating easier for the user, engage and promote eating experience, be intuitive, accommodate limited motor skills and low vision, increase user independence, and be non-stigmatizing to respect the dignity of users.


In the Define stage we determined...


Stakeholder Analysis Matrix

Why did we create a stakeholder analysis and experience map?

Due to the diverse needs and experiences of individuals living with dementia, and the importance of recognizing support staff and caregivers roles as stakeholders in our design, we created a stakeholder matrix in order to identify and rank the needs of different groups of people which would guide our design decisions.

How did this impact our final design?

Our stakeholder matrix and experience mapping aided in our concept development and enhanced our design decisions from the ideation stage and beyond. Additionally, by carefully considering who our stakeholders were and showing our clients our thorough analysis, our clients at the Mountainview Club were far more receptive to our UX strategies and designs when we attended testing sessions.

Model Making

Why did we create low fidelity models?

Low-fidelity models helped us to visualize and test our initial design concepts which helped provoke improvement and suggestions from Baycrest's Subject Matter Experts.
Low Fidelity Models: Based on our design criteria, we decided to create models for every component of a dishware set (cutlery, plate, and cup) in a way that addressed the issues we observed with their use in Mountainview. The creation of the models was split up amongst the group to maximize our time without having to meet up.

How did this impact our final design?

Our Subject Matter Experts held a review session with us to discuss our models. There was some confusion among the SMEs about whether our models were meant to be a complete set of dishware or if they were an exploration into which item was most impactful; we meant for the models to be a set, but because we worked on our models asynchronously, they were disjointed and did not visually or functionally act as a set. It was decided that the dish was the most impactful design solution as it did not require Mountainview to replace its cutlery, so our group would focus our efforts solely on a dish design solution from here onward.

Form Exploration

Why did I have a review session at this stage?

Lowfidelity explorations of form allowed us to determine which forms would bemost functional for Mountainview’s clients and staff.

How did this impact our final design?

We were able to build, test, and iterate our dish early on, confident that each design decision had been thoughtfully decided, which allowed us to improve its functionality in prototyping and testing stages.


In the Ideate stage we determined...


Built Prototype

Why did we create a built prototype?

We created a built prototype in order to test our design and discover any manufacturing, functionality, or form difficulties.
In context photos of prototype in use. The prototype is a white, plastic plate, with an edge curving inward on one half of the plate, which has been painted red. Images show a person's hand using a spoon to scoop dry food onto the utensil using the plate edge.
Built Prototype: Colin created a 3D model of our dish in Rhino3D, using our desired diameter, curvature, and height specifications determined during form development. Sydney got the model 3D printed, tweaking the CAD model onsite at a rapid prototyping studio to ensure the large diameter could be accommodated. Jasmine and Colin applied and sanded Bondo, a polyester putty often used for automotive body filler, to create a smooth surface finish and ceramic appearance. Finally, Jasmine applied paint to the model to the specifications we determined during form development.

How did this impact our final design?

Prior to applying surface finishing to our 3D print, we discovered that the recesses included in the dish for the silicone base rings, which would allow for removal when washing making the plates easier for staff to clean, had been filled in by the 3D printer because the depth and width of the silicone rings were so small. As a result, we pivoted to a different, full coverage, premade silicone base which was easy to insert and design future specifications around. Our Subject Matter Experts also suggested that the dish come in a variety of sizes after seeing food on the dish because clients are served different portion sizes. and that the final design be made with plastic because they realized we could make plastic look like the ceramic their clients were familiar and experience less plate breakage.

Simulation Testing

Why did we conduct simulation testing?

Due to Research Ethics Board limitations, we were unable to test our design with Mountainview's clients for the remainder of the project.
Simulation devices depicting a black and grey wrist brace on a single hand, yellow goggles with a scratched surface finish, long weights with straps, and thick grey gloves.
Simulation Devices: We used a variety of simulation devices such as ankle weights (to weigh down legs or arms which will simulate a decrease in mobility), yellow and scratched goggles (to embody impaired and aging vision), a wrist brace (to restrict mobility), and gloves (to reduce sense of touch and tactility). Together, these 4 wearable devices, helped us to simulate how an elderly client, with reduced mobility and living with some of the symptoms of dementia, may interface with our device.

How did this impact our final design?

By simulating the experiences of our clients and testing the product, we determined the form of our dish was too limiting, forcing clients to use the dish in a specific way and/or creating more work for Mountainview staff who may have to position each dish in a specific way.

Redesigned Form

Why did we create CAD models of the redesigned form?

Due to financial and time constraints, we were limited in the amount of 3D printing and model making we could do, so we created renderings from CAD models to accurately depict our new form to ensure our clients were happy and wanted to move forward.
Redesigned Form Renderings: Colin developed the above renderings from CAD models so our group could ensure we had an agreed upon final design with our clients without having to print, finish, and paint another 3D print.

How did this impact our final design?

Our clients (Mountainview staff and Subject Matter Experts) loved the design! We were given the go ahead to move forward and produce a tangible model of our final solution.


In the Prototype stage we determined...


Independence First: Enjoy a Meal Easily and Without Assistance
In context image of final design in use. Top view of dry food being pushed to one plate edge, loading the food onto the spoon for the user.
Blum's scooped edges help push food onto any spoon or fork, making meal time easy and enjoyable for individuals with limited motor skills.
Stigma Free: Beautifully Designed to Be Enjoyed by All
Rendering of final design in various sizes nested into each other.
Through its intentional application of colour and surface finish, Blum's elegant design is enjoyed by all, regardless of their abilities.
Made Well: Designed with Durable Materials
A rendering of two of the same cream coloured, irregularly shaped dishes with red accents on a black background. The dish on the left shows that the product has higher edges on two of its four sides, sloping inward, and painted with a red interior. The dish on the right shows a red patterned silicone bottom on the dish.
Accidents happen, but with Blum's durable polycarbonate plastic design and dynamic silicone underside, this dish won't slip or break.
Easy Care: Simple to Use During and After Meals
Rendering of final design showing removable red silicone base.
Blum can be washed in industrial and household dishwashers, thanks to its easily removable anti-slip mat and high heat resistant material.



Who did we present our project to?

  • Our team and all other design teams part of the Baycrest x OCAD U design for health course were invited to present their designs at Baycrest's Jacobs Theatre. There, we presented to Baycrest's president and executive team, Baycrest's innovation office, and the Mountainview Club's clients, staff, and Subject Matter Experts.
  • We displayed our work at DesignTO amongst some of the year's best student health design projects as part of OCAD U's annual Design for Health, Wellness, and Aging exhibit.
Photograph of design team standing behind prototypes from different stages in the design process as well as the final design staged with utensils and food.
Baycrest's Jacobs Theatre Presentation: after our presentation to Baycrest's executive team and Mountainview's clients and staff, our design team spoke one on one with audience members at our project booth. We displayed all of Blum's form progressions in chronological order with a final prototype for visitors to use and test.

From left to right: Colin Lynch, Hadas Green, Jasmine Khnanishoo, and Sydney Cooling-Sturges (that's me!).


Baycrest Health Sciences

  • Our design received a full evaluation from Baycrest's president and executive team, Baycrest's innovation office, and the Mountainview Club's clients, staff, and Subject Matter Experts, where we received outstanding scores for usability and overall design. Our design was selected to be manufactured and tested in Mountainview's facility. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the manufacturing and testing of our project has been put on hold indefinitely to pursue more pressing matters at the hospital related to the pandemic.


  • DesignTO Festival is Canada's leading (and largest) annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making, with over 100 exhibitions around the city of Toronto forming the event each year since 2011 on the third week of January. Each year DesignTO's four judges, made up of local multidisciplinary talent, determine the DesignTO award winners in recognition of design excellence. Our design won a coveted Juror's Choice award and the exhibition it was a part of, "Design for Health, Wellness, and Aging", won Best in Festival: Exhibition.

Next Steps

Usability Testing with Intended Users


Bill of materials, approximate production cost for full product with 2,500 units made is $15.26 per unit and an e-commerce cost of $57.23 per unit.

Expanded Line

Rendering of bowl version of product in perspective, front, and side views.

Want to see more? View other work below!

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