How design has transformed disability

It’s almost exactly two months until the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games, an event sure to showcase the impact design has had on the sporting world.

Touch Bionics iLimb
Touch Bionics iLimb

An exhibition opening next month at The National Centre for  Craft & Design in Lincolnshire, Transformers, will showcase the designs and innovations that help the athletes competing in the games, as well as other objects that have transformed the lives of disabled people.

The shown will feature more than 60 objects, as well as films and photographs, split into six sections.

A particularly exciting element of the show is called We Are Robots, which looks at the designs that are used to adapt the human body to interface with machines. This section features the Eyeborg Film is made by documentary film-maker Rob Spence, who lost an eye in an accident.

Oscar Pistorius - Cheetah
Oscar Pistorius – Cheetah

Spence fitted a camera in his eye to create a film looking at how ‘real cyborgs’ do actually exist, showing that digital technology, body augmentation and robots are becoming more and more of a reality.

Mat Fraser wears Freddie Robins Short Armed and Dangerous
Mat Fraser wears Freddie Robins Short Armed and Dangerous

Over in the This Sporting Life area, devices such as the Ossur Cheetah lets and Nike Fastskin swimming suit will be on display. The Keeping Up Appearances section examines how major brands use disability as a positive brand message, with works from textile designer Freddie Robins on show, such as the Short Armed and Dangerous sweaters created for rock drummer Mat Fraser.

There are also some interested technologies on display as part of the Domestic Science show, which examines how innovative design has produced a number of devices that aim to support domestic tasks, such as the 1970s Chairmobile designed by Lord Snowdon and Ikuko Iwamoto’s tactile ceramic tableware.

Lanzavecchia + Wai, No Country for Old Men together canes
Lanzavecchia + Wai, No Country for Old Men together canes

We particularly like the walking aids designed by Lanzavecchia+Wai, which allow users to carry items such as tea trays, magazines and even iPads on their canes.

Transformer: How enabling design has transformed disability runs from 14 July – 30 September at The National Centre for Craft & Design, Navigation Wharf, Carre Street, Sleaford, Lincolnshire NG34

Latest articles