Sep 13, 2012

carla jaspers: "mainframe"

Carla Jaspers is a New York-based designer trained both in occupational therapy and industrial design, and possibly the first person to properly rant about the ridiculousness of walkers-with-tennis-balls:

a commonly used walker mobility aid, with wheels on front and tennis balls on the back two feet

Jaspers raises this medicalized, ill-conceived structure as evidence that assistive tech remains utterly marginalized from the mainstream design field. She writes that our cultural acceptance of this "adaptation" has been so complete that, rather than a re-imagining of the entire apparatus, there are braces designed to hold the tennis balls in place:

two tennis balls on walker legs, with a specially-designed attachment to hold the balls onto the leg, despite their ill fit as an adaptation.
[image via.]

So I love how Carla completely took this task apart, finding similarities in the walking gait and the task at hand with other common needs:

Three images show similar movements among gear-users in cities: a walker, a woman pushing a stroller, and a woman pushing a wire-frame grocery cart. All three must bend over their tools in a similar fashion.

A drawing with 2 dozen or so sketches and images of wheeled gear, with directional red lines indicating their axes of movement. Bikes, strollers and all forms of walker prototypes.

And landed finally on this "Mainframe" design, equally a mobility aid and hauling device for gear—you can hang bags, for instance, on the cross bars—or a provisional stroller.

A triptych of Jaspers's final prototype, both collapsed in a fold and fully open. It has a streamlined elegance, with a pale frame, tan handle grips, and a smart set of four wheels

8 different views of the frame of the walker, collapsed and open

The Mainframe with fabric draped over its structure, as a proposed stroller adaptation         The walker in use!

See more of Carla's work.