Challenging preconceptions of mobility
PriestmanGoode are proud to have supported Michael Strantz (RCA MA Design Products, 2022) with WALKABLE. Michael was the winner of the Hamlyn Walker Project, which focused on tackling the preconceptions of mobility aids by reimagining a mobility walker as a desirable and joyful device that motivates and supports users to be more active.
PriestmanGoode is passionate about Design Education and supporting students in their journey moving into a design career. In collaboration with Design Age Institute at the Royal College of Art (RCA), Lady Helen Hamlyn, Patron of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, invited RCA students and recent graduates to rethink the walker and recreate it as an item that people are proud to use in their home or be seen with out and about. A walker that is robust yet elegant, effortless and fun to use and makes daily life better for everyone who might be struggling with their mobility.
Many people resist getting a walker until they have had a fall. This is largely due to the stigma associated with these devices. The medical or institutionalised appearance can emphasise a person’s frailty and draw attention to their vulnerability.
Working at PriestmanGoode’s studio, Michael’s strategy to overcome the stigma involved with walkers was to design a concept that incorporates innovative functions that can assist individuals in their everyday lives. To achieve this, the product features an active appearance inspired by sports equipment, which aims to transform the walker from a medical device to a product that people would use for exercise.
WALKABLE promotes walking as a vital type of cardio exercise, encouraging users to remain physically active as they age. By combining practical functions with innovative technology and a dynamic design language, the product aims to enhance users’ experience as they can track their progress and health data whilst making them feel confident and comfortable using a walker.
A smart walker, helping users with their individual needs
The WALKABLE features a rechargeable device located at the top of the frame, with two straps that can attach a smartphone. By connecting a smartphone to the walker via Bluetooth, the smartphone will be wirelessly charging and transformed into a display screen that provides easy access to various sensors integrated into the walker, facilitating lights transitioning from day to night usage. This allows users to track their progress and performance whilst also monitoring their health.
Colour, Material and Finish Story
The walker comes in three different colour palettes aiming to speak to different personas. After focus group research revealed users have different perspectives as to how they would like to be perceived with a walker – with one noting that it is essential that the walker stands out and is seen, therefore suiting the brighter orange colour palette. Another user suggested they did not want the walker to stand out and draw attention away from them as a person, so keener on a more neutral coloured walker. The overall aim is to use colours that are recognisable in sports equipment, to create an active feel for the walker.
WALKABLE is centred around the needs of its users. To ensure Michael created a product that was both practical and relatable, he conducted research by reaching out to various stakeholders, including health professionals and shop owners. He also held focus groups with users to gain insights into their current challenges and identify potential solutions. This approach not only helped to form the overall concept but also gave insights to develop specific features and practical solutions that would benefit users in various scenarios, such as the brake and folding mechanisms. To explore different approaches and test and iterate on ideas quickly, Michael utilised rapid prototyping.
If you would be interested to discuss more about the WALKABLE concept with designer Michael Strantz please get in touch with the form below: