Young designers probably will not come up with a solution how to cure Alzheimer’s disease, but for sure more and more of them come up with brilliant ideas how to help patients, their families and carers to do their daily activities. Several good and yet very simple examples were recently shown at Dubai Design Week.
The following projects designed for people with Alzheimer’s disease and those around them were part of the Global Grad Show that had run in mid-November as one of the main events of the Dubai Design Week 2017. The authors of the five selected works are graduates of the Pratt Institute in New York.
This article is not a review of “best of the best” graduation projects. All projects shown at the Grad Grad Show deserve attention, and their talented authors deserve sincere congratulations and support for further development of their ideas.
This feature was written for the families of patients suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers – I hope that graduation projects will be developed and launched on the market as final products in the near future to make their lives a little bit easier.
1. Dirty Dog by Laureen Lee
Dirty Dog is a bath time companion kit, designed to improve the bathing experience of Alzheimer’s patients for whom bathing is often a frightening activity that compromises dignity and privacy.
Composed of a microfibre sponge dog and black charcoal soap, the Dirty Dog kit places the sponge dog, not the bather, at the center of the experience. When applying the charcoal soap to the dog, it appears to become dirty, shifting the focus from taking a bath to washing the dog.
While bathing the dog, the soap lathers and washes the user simultaneously. Having a soft pet-like companion that he or she must care for, gives the user a sense of purpose in the bathroom, taking the focus away from their own experience.
2. Hug Chair by Napat Petcharatana
Hug Chair is a chair cover designed to provide comfort and affection for Alzheimer’s patients.
The cover combines a cushion and two extended arms that are easily attached to the chair by a wrap-around Velcro strap. Users slide their hands into the mitten-like pockets at the end of each arm, then pull the arms around themselves, simulating the experience of a hug.
The cover attaches to most common chairs, making it flexible and accommodating. Inspired by the importance of a hug in releasing emotional tension, Hug Chair offers the Alzheimer’s sufferer a familiar and dependable embrace.
3. Picture Mirror by Hsing Yin Liang
Picture Mirror is a multipurpose medicine cabinet designed for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
Alzheimer’s patients are often confused by their own image in the mirror. This can cause severe distress, leading many family members to remove all mirrors from the home, at great inconvenience to themselves.
Picture Mirror allows the user to display its reflective qualities only when necessary.
The device is equipped with embedded LED lights behind the door. When a caregiver turns on the lights, the mirror’s reflective surface is replaced with a collection of family pictures. Picture Mirror is a flexible object, enabling the co-habitation of patient and caregiver.
4. Out of Sight Drawer by Caitlin McIver
Out of Sight Drawer is a kitchen drawer insert that protects Alzheimer’s patients from potentially harmful culinary tools.
By creating a false bottom, the Out of Sight Drawer provides a camouflaged layer where dangerous objects can be stored, without the inconvenience and hostility of drawer locks. The design’s easy-to-remove bottom allows caregivers unhindered access to the hidden implements, providing an unobtrusive system that allows for the everyday care of Alzheimer’s sufferers without disturbing the natural living environment.
5. Door Camouflage by Cody Calamaio
Door Camouflage is a pop-up photo display shelf, designed to prevent Alzheimer’s patients from wandering out of their house.
The project is inspired by the dangers of Alzheimer’s patients leaving their homes, as well as expert suggestions that negative behaviours are best addressed through distraction. Made entirely of paper, Door Camouflage transforms a two-dimensional poster into a three-dimensional photo display, using a simple method of paper folding, similar to that of a pop-up book.
By disguising the door and recalling memories, this display turns a dangerous situation into a moment of joyful reflection. Door Camouflage is a low-cost solution to one of the biggest day-to-day problems faced by Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
If you would like to know what other topics have been covered at the Global Grad Show and many other events at Dubai Design Week, please visit my Instagram account. I published almost 80 posts from exhibitions from Dubai.
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