Chopsticks are everywhere in Japan and Asian restaurants worldwide. But even though their design is as simple as it gets, not everyone is able to use this standardized tool. This led Fukui-based craftsman Katsuyuki Miyabo to start using his woodworking skills to help people suffering hand disabilities.
His chopsticks for the physically challenged are spring-operated and require minimal action to be used — their user simply presses on them to grab food, and they spring back in open position once the pressure is released. They also sport a custom-made, thick grip that lets its user get an intuitive, solid grip on the chopsticks.
In the process of making each pair of sticks, Miyabi goes through a series of meetings and adjustments to make sure that the fit is perfect for each client. To save the cost and time of making new prototypes every time, the client usually starts out by choosing a base design, which Miyabi will refine using precise hand measurements to create an ergonomical shape.
But most importantly, his face-to-face encounters allow him to gain insights into each client’s disability, understand how it affects them in his or her daily life and fuel his own motivation to keep going with the project.