After retiring from Copco (the American kitchenware company he founded) in 1988, Sam Farber decided to use his entrepreneurial experience to help people with physical disabilities and impairments. He asked the New York-based firm Smart Design to develop a line of kitchen utensils whose principal focus was the grip, its quality and efficiency. Oval in shape and formed out of thermoplastic elastomer—a synthetic rubber that can be molded in detail by injection—with gill-like incisions for a firm grip, the handle they developed has been outfitted with knife blades, can openers, potato peelers, and more. A better-fitting handle born out of necessity was the spark for a design philosophy that extended to other kitchen items, from measuring cups to oven mitts. The line, which was initially devised for a few, has become widely favored for its beauty, comfort, and intelligence—a great example of universal design.
Gallery label from Born out of Necessity, March 2, 2012–January 28, 2013.