There were a few products that were interesting such as a fully-lockable, 5" deep medicine chest that was made to fit between the studs in a wall, a grab bar - what I prefer to call a balance bar - that was made from glow-in-the-dark material, and a shower seat made from recycled teak with a design that was so amazingly beautiful that it really should have been marketed to designers for use in a entry hall, foyer, at the end of the bed or in a living room. It was just that good looking. Great looking products that can be safe and supportive of one's independence yet provide a sense of style would be most warmly welcomed by both baby boomers and all of us designers.
Wandering the convention center thru the miles of aisles, I came into a section where small specialized vendors had designed and executed very creative designs for wheelchairs. One in particular was crafted from lightweight graphite with racing-style wheels, interchangeable leather seat and back cushions and a slick paint job in what I would call Ferrari red with black accents.
It really was something to see and I remarked to the young gentleman - his name was Jim - who was the designer that it was like a fine piece of art. Jim just grinned from ear to ear as he looked up at me from his seated position in this striking wheelchair design. He told me that he lost use of his legs since his accident on the ski slopes and could not find a chair that didn't look like it was from some institution. So having been educated as an engineer, Jim decided to create something special that would be comforting as well as great looking. And he did. I asked him what something like this Ferrari chair might sell for and he suggested that he had at least $1,800 in materials alone so I'm thinking it would be well above $3k once it hit the marketplace.
But it makes me wonder, even today,...some 8 years later, why we don't see more really cool designs for wheelchairs like Jim's. Designers like myself create high style interiors - and exteriors - that allow anyone to live with a high measure of independence in an environment that is also visually great but safe, comforting, functional and secure. Seems that there would be demand for a high style chair that is visually sensational but also functional, safe, and secure. Just wondering. Universal design meets Bauhaus might be a start. What do you think?