Our enduring belief that disability and style need not be mutually exclusive sees us endlessly scouring the internet for new and trendy mobility products. There are so many dour and clunky products out there but, if you search in the right places, with a little bit of patience you can find some real gems.
A problem is that, although many excellent designers have created some spectacular mobility aids, they rarely manage to release them to the public. Creative and visually stunning designs get consigned to the eternal design process known as ‘development’ or are simply scrapped. It appears that, whilst designers like to find ways to solve problems for the less able, ‘the powers that be’ don’t believe there is a market for trendy mobility aids.
We couldn’t disagree more but since there is a clear problem here we’ve had to divide our update on trendy mobility aids into two sections. Firstly, we’ll take a look at some designs that are currently on sale – ‘the products’. Then we’ll look at the wonderful ideas that are (for now) some way away from hitting shops – we’ve called these ‘the concepts’.
We’ve been talking for a while now about our struggle to find any stylish rollators. Sure, we could see lots of cool concept designs but the products that are actually available to buy all tended to look like shopping trolleys or boring pieces of scrap, designed on the basis that nobody using them cares about style. It had become something of a pet peeve at BBS Towers. That was until we found Rollz Motion Rollators.
Comparing these to a standard rollator is like comparing an iPod with a Walkman. One is bright, light and modern and the other is rather dull and ancient. In fact, forget Walkman most rollators are gramophones compared to these.
Rollz Motion Rollators are ergonomic, funkily designed and also convert into a comfortable wheelchair in seconds. They come in four cool colours which are fun and vibrant without being garish and also fold up easily to fit into the car.
They’re quite expensive compared to most rollators – available for £672 (or £560 excl. VAT) – but they are so much more stylish.
Let’s Go Out Rollators are another more contemporary take on rollators. They’re Swedish designed with soft suspension and folding frames. By making a feature of the large, elegant wheels, accompanied with a sleek modern frame, they have managed to make a stylish rollator.
They’re available in black/silver or beige/silver and cost £255.
Wheelblades are new handy little attachments for wheelchairs which improve mobility in icy and snowy conditions.
These blades clip on easily to the front wheels and prevent them from digging into the ground and making manoeuvrability so difficult in wintery conditions.
They’ve been acclaimed as an innovative new design that will help wheelchair users in weather than would previously have forced people to remain indoors. They were given a Red Dot Design Award in 2013 and have also been nominated at the German Design Awards.
These aren’t going to be necessary for everyone, especially at a price of 199 Euros for a pair but they are an innovative new idea that could catch on, particularly with the Sochi Winter Paralympics coming up in March.
During our April Fools’ Competition we introduced many people to the Tank Chair (and yes, it did turn out to be a real thing) and this ScoutCrawler chair seems to share many characteristics with it.
Thanks to its chain drive, the ScoutCrawler can comfortably tackle not only snow but also sand, gravel and grass easily. Even inclines up to 17 degrees (way over the one in twelve gradient for ramps) are handled easily by the versatile outdoor drive due to the large ground contact surface of its tracks.
At the Red Dot Design Awards, Scoutcrawler say they ‘convinced’ the jury of renowned experts and received an honourable mention. However, it would be hard to argue that it’s the most beautiful mobility aid you’re ever likely to see and at a pretty hefty RRP of £9822 it may be a bridge too far for most.
There are a lot of wheelchair gloves out there but these are quite possibly our favourites (at least for the moment!). Despite the name they do not, as far as we can tell, have any association with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson – we wonder if it’s just of canny marketing from Tanni (excuse the rhyme).
They look like they’re just simple and stylish leather gloves. You wouldn’t know to look at them but they’ve been designed with wheelchair users in mind and tested to make sure they are suited to long term wheelchair use. Each pair is individually handmade upon order and will set you back £70 (£58.33 excl. VAT).
The Concepts Hopefully, some of these will be on sale one day!! The No Country For Old Men range from Lanzavecchia + Wai aims to bring a new concept to mobility aids in Italy and beyond. They say that the idea that elderly and disabled people want some style and beauty in their mobility products, rather than a hospital look, is far from prevalent. With this in mind they have produced some really attractive prototypes:
- Together Canes aim to make life easier around the house by providing multi-functioning mobility aids. Three different versions each serve slightly different purposes to allow less physically able people to move things around the house more easily. They are all on wheels and basically allow you to smoothly carry items from A to B.
The design of the canes is rather reminiscent to that of Omhu canes. So, if you’re attracted to the smooth features here, they may be worth checking out.
- Assunta chairs are designed to help mobility and to look good too. By appropriating the user’s own body weight as leverage by stepping on the foot bar, these devices make it easier to stand up. The assistive function of the chair blends well into its design which just looks like a very stylish chair in its own right. They would come with removable, colourful cushion covers if they were put into production.
These Gardening Chairs are somewhere between concept and product. This all encompassing garden chair which has wheels, suspension back support and looks stylish too is only an idea at the moment.
Although the full version hasn’t been put into production there are some suggested similar products. For instance, this Rolling Garden Seat doesn’t look as mobile or comfortable but would help around the garden.
This is another cool wheelchair and rollator combo design. It looks like it could be quite trendy but also seems like an early concept stage in the process.
QED Crutches are something we’ve been keeping an eye on for a while now but there was been very little movement for many years. They were never put into large scale production and it looks like they never will, which is a shame because they’re unlike anything else and look fantastic. They show that there are ways of doing really interesting original things with mobility aids.
Another concept we love is the Zimmeration. These could transform the way people think about the wretchedly boring NHS style zimmer frames. Someone just needs to give them a chance and back them.