Michael Graves Design and CVS Remade Canes and Walkers

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Photo: Provided by CVS Pharmacy

When you buy new furniture or clothing, you may be able to express who you are, get the job done, and be thrilled to own it. It does not apply to “durable medical devices” such as walkers and wands. This is a category of products that many people have to reluctantly buy at some point in their lives and haven’t changed for decades.

“These products are usually created for basic functionality, and people expect it to be sufficient,” said Rob Van Varick, chief designer of Michael Graves Architecture & Design. “Oh, can’t you stand in the shower? This is the chair you can sit on, but it’s horribly uncomfortable and difficult to assemble. We thought, Why can’t I design something that deserves Pinterest?The company is now launching new mobility aids and bath safety items for CVS Health that treat products like household items, not clinical equipment. The collection includes folding wands, comfort grip wands, walkers, raised toilet seats, shower chairs, and toilet bowls. Most of these are available on the CVS website and are currently sold in over 6,000 retail stores. February 22. The results aren’t flashy, but through dozens of well-thought-out details, the collection works better and looks better than everything else in its price range.

Photo: Courtesy of CVS Pharmacy

It is paradoxical that tools designed to support everyday activities such as walking and bathing have many difficult-to-use flaws. MGA & D is particularly keen on redesigning mobility and bus safety products, as they are often the first assistive devices people buy. During the development process, the team talks to dozens of caregivers, occupational therapists, and people who use items, how stigmatized these products are, and how reluctant older people are to adopt them. I talked about it. “I’ve come up with a lot of the phrase’necessary evil’,” says Van Valic. “Older adults … think of these items as a way to achieve your goals,” said Donald Strum, the company’s chief designer, more frankly. “People may need these products, but no one wants them,” he says. “We continued to hear the passages called” Death Passages “where these products are usually sold. Why does everyone want to shop in the Death Passage? !! “

The new line is a continuation of Michael Graves’ commitment to affordable and out-of-the-box product design. The late founder of the Walt Disney Company headquarters, Portland Building, Denver Public Library and other spaces, made a name for itself in the world of product design through collaboration with Target in 1997. A yearly partnership that has influenced the collections of dozens of future department stores and mass merchandisers by well-known designers. However, auxiliary design also stems from Graves’ personal experience of requiring mobility aids. In 2003, Graves was paralyzed from his waist down. His disability broadened the focus of his company and he began developing medical products, hospital furniture, and assistive devices. “A well-designed place or thing can actually improve healing, but a poor design can prevent it,” he argued. Over the years, his company has developed items such as safe and comfortable hospital room chairs, more comfortable and easy-to-operate hospital wheelchairs, hot compresses and height-adjustable handrails. At Walmart.

The Comfort Grip Wand (left), Folding Wand (upper right), and Walker (lower right) have easy-to-use mechanisms and details such as large pushbuttons and ergonomic grips. Courtesy of CVS Pharmacy.

The Comfort Grip Wand (left), Folding Wand (upper right), and Walker (lower right) have mechanisms and details such as large pushbuttons and ergonomic wands.
The Comfort Grip Wand (left), Folding Wand (upper right), and Walker (lower right) have easy-to-use mechanisms and details such as large pushbuttons and ergonomic grips. Courtesy of CVS Pharmacy.

The design team knew that the product they manufactured needed to succeed in three ways. It worked better than anything else, looked better than what was there, and had to cost the same. For mobility items, it was important to keep something close. Folding wands, for example, are so difficult to fold and open that users can leave them assembled. They are usually made like tent poles, with bungee cords threaded through hollow rods that need to be pressed firmly to assemble and pulled apart to disassemble. This is especially difficult for people with weak muscles. In the meantime, in order to keep it folded, you usually have to wrap a rubber band around it, otherwise the part will bounce back open. Michael Graves’ solution? Make something that snaps into place. Strum was inspired by the old foldable yardstick that Graves gave him many years ago and borrowed its hinge mechanism in the design of the CVS. There is a large push button to hold the pieces of the cane with the magnets spread out together and adjust the height. The usual wand design focused on the main issue of grip and developed a C-shaped handle that is easy to hold and allows the wand to be hung on a restaurant table or arm. The wand has two different legs, each in three colors.

“We love designing details that people don’t understand until we use the product,” says Van Varick. This is obvious to pedestrians in the company. Its structure looks more like a bicycle cruiser handlebar than a typical walker with parallel grips. This gives the user more clearance and stability. In collaboration with the Walk / Motion Analysis Laboratory at Seton Hall, designers have found that tilting the grip down just 3.5 degrees (mostly parallel to the ground) reduces wrist strain and improves posture. did.

The raised toilet seat (left) has a spring clamp that is easy to install and remove. MGA & D makes the toilet (upper right) and shower chair (lower right) look more like furniture than medical equipment, with a chrome finish that seems to be in the bathroom. Courtesy CVS pharmacy.

The raised toilet seat (left) has a spring clamp that is easy to install and remove. MGA & D has a toilet (upper right) and a shower chair (…
The raised toilet seat (left) has a spring clamp that is easy to install and remove. MGA & D makes the toilet (upper right) and shower chair (lower right) look more like furniture than medical equipment, with a chrome finish that seems to be in the bathroom. Courtesy CVS pharmacy.

The challenge for bus safety products was to maintain dignity. “There is some embarrassment when the guest is over,” says Van Valic. “They didn’t want anyone to look at the device and say,’Oh, a sick person lives here.’ To deal with this, the designer paid close attention to the materials and silhouettes. The toilet bowl looks like a regular chair because the thick seat hides the removable pot. The shower chair uses a chrome finish to combine bathroom fixtures with ABS plastic. This is similar to the appearance of an acrylic bathtub. The quality of the plastic was especially important for the raised toilet seat. Most of the products on the market are made of blow molded plastic, which is not as good as ABS. “It feels like a milk jug,” says Van Valic. “It’s cheap, so it looks and feels cheap.” The team wanted a design that looked as close as possible to the actual toilet seat and was easy to put on and take off. They riffed the woodworking clamps and created a spring-loaded mechanism that allows the user to attach the seat without tools.

Aside from mechanics, materials and silhouettes, the most exciting part of this collaboration is its size and location, the national drugstore chain. Often, these products remain as ideas in the designer’s portfolio, or only exist as models for museums that are out of the hands of those who can benefit from them. That might have been the case with this collection. The prototype of the Michael Graves Wand and Heavy Grip Wand Handle is part of a recent exhibition on Cooper Hewitt’s accessibility, and the company has been looking for a manufacturing partner for 10 years before CVS signed it in 2019. rice field. It’s as easy as picking up a bottle of shampoo. Designers want their collaboration with CVS to be done with ancillary products, much like the work they did at Target in the 90’s with household items. The company envisions a future in which assistive devices are as ordinary, readily available and fashionable as eyeglasses. “For Michael, there was nothing insignificant,” says Strum. “You can give everything a soul, a personality, which can transform an object into a part of someone’s life.”

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