Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: August 30th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories, Retirement | No Comments »
One of my favourite Tweeters is @boyfrombristol. Today he tweeted this gem of a story about unrequited First Love in the wake of the 1948 Olympics which he has kindly allowed me to reproduce here.
The first cut is the deepest run the words of the old Rod Stewart song, and no truer words have ever been written. I was reminded of it a few weeks ago when four old boys met up for a quiet drink, a chat on current affairs, and an occasional stroll down memory lane. We all grew up together a long time ago in war-ravaged Bristol. With a combined age of 300 years, we share a million memories of our beloved city. We sat and watched the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The conversation switched seamlessly back to 1948, for this was the year when London last hosted the Olympics. Suddenly, we fell silent, all eyes turned to me, and we all burst out laughing.
You see,1948 was the year that I fell in love for the very first time. I was only eleven when it happened. She was a new girl on the block…Her name was Maria Theresa, a tall, slender, elegant, Italian girl who spoke no English. Like all the greatest love stories, my love was unrequited. It wasn’t for the want of trying. I tried everything. I gave her my whole week’s ration of chocolate. She took it, ate it, but remained aloof. I offered her my collection of Italian postage stamps. She politely declined. Then, I had my brainwave, and a cunning plan slowly took shape.
The 1948 London Games had just finished. There were no television sets in our world, and we had contented ourselves with some crackly commentaries from our battery driven radios, and some grainy images from the Pathe Newsreels. But it had still excited our young imaginations. From an early age, I had the ability to run. This, I decided, was the way to Maria’s heart. I announced that we would be staging our very own Olympic Games. I spread the word on the streets with an almost evangelical zeal. Lord Coe would have been proud of me.
Eugene Street was to be our Olympic Stadium. Neatly tucked away behind the Bristol Royal Infirmary, it was already our soccer pitch in winter and our cricket pitch in summer. Now it would be our athletics stadium. Come the day, and 10 would -be budding Olympians, of various shapes and sizes, turned up to take part. Molly and Mavis held their skipping ropes across the road to create a finishing line, and the street fell silent as we lined up at the far end.
I was dressed up for the occasion. White vest, new short, grey flannel trousers, and new black daps (plimsolls for non Bristolians). I was also sporting my new, trendy, royal blue and scarlet striped braces
I got away to a flier, and I sped down the road. I was the Roman God, Mercury, with wings on my heels. I was bearing a message of love from Romeo to Juliet. My Juliet was standing about 10 yards behind the finishing line, holding her younger sister’s hand. She wasn’t even watching. Then, when I was about 20 yards from the finish, she looked up and our eyes met. I threw both arms in the air in a victory salute. The buttons on my trousers parted company with my new braces, and my trousers headed for my ankles. Panic !! I was commando, and for a couple of strides, everything I had was on display to the world. I managed to grab hold of my trousers just as they were passing my knees, but as I stumbled to the finishing line, Ronny and Johnny swept past me. I fell across the line in a blurred flurry of arms, legs, trousers, braces and prepubescent genitals, in third place.
I doubt that I will ever forget the look on Maria’s face as she stared down at me. Then she spoke quietly to her sister in Italian, and walked away. She and her family moved on about two weeks later and I never saw her again. But, I would always remember those final words. They sounded so romantic to my young ears.
Six or seven years later as I was about to enter the Royal Navy for my National Service, I was rummaging through some old books in Christmas Steps. I came across an English / Italian dictionary. I bought it, took it home, and slowly translated what Maria had said.
‘Ogni volta che lo vedo mi sento male’
Every time I see him I feel sick
The first cut is the deepest. I don’t think that I have ever truly recovered from that day, and even 64 years on, I still blush at the memory.
This story was first published at http://kingsdownkid.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/it-was-long-ago-and-far-away.html?spref=tw
Posted: August 28th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Fashion, Health, Inclusive design | No Comments »
"Chap style" prosthetic leg by Hanna Mawbey
As the world turns its attention to the paralympics and the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, designer Hanna Mawbey describes how her sister’s congenital illness triggered an interest in medical aids which led her to design a prosthetic leg which owes more to craft than technology.
My interest in the design of medical equipment has its roots in my firsthand observations of growing up with a congenitally ill sister. Her constant ill-health, and conversely my relative good-health, is the catalyst from which my interest has grown.
My sister has to use numerous medical aids and devices to help ease the symptoms of her illness. Often, these objects are functional and ‘ugly’ to behold; their primary concern is with performing a task. For example, breathing apparatus and intravenous drips are produced in garish colours, weird shapes and in materials that lend the objects little sense of worth or longevity.
Whilst photographing my sister during a recent hospital stay, I started to make connections between the medical equipment she used and the work I had been undertaking at the University of Brighton.
Prosthetic limbs have been a personal interest of mine for a number of years. When I first visited the Wellcome Collection I was struck by the display of prosthetic arms and legs, how beautifully made and detailed they were in comparison to the ones that are made now. Innovations in the manufacture and production of prostheses is an essential thing – companies such as Blatchford and Otto Bock are constantly striving to find new durable, lightweight and comfortable materials to make prosthetics with. Speed of production is the key. Amputations due to increased action in war, increased cases of diabetes and various other illnesses mean that more and more patients require the use of a prosthetic.
I first became involved with Otto Bock Sussex Rehab Centre a number of years ago when my friend was going there for a routine appointment. I was invited along to meet the team of prosthetists and technicians. From this moment onward, I knew I wanted to come back and visit again.
A requirement of the MDes course at the University of Brighton is that a period of work placement is undertaken. The time spent on my work placement at Otto Bock was incredibly useful. The team of technicians supported and helped me to understand how to make prosthesis, the technical aspects of balance and forces involved as well as gaining an understanding of the materials used in the production process.
Technical Engineers at Otto Bock
One aspect I became very interested in was the use of leatherwork in the making of limbs. Leather is not used so much any more – it takes a long time to prepare. It is however the most comfortable material to have next to skin. Modern prosthesis are made from various plastic foams such as plastezote or pedilin.
I was struck by how detailed the leatherwork was, in comparison to the rest of the limb and I began to learn about leatherworking techniques. The leatherworker at Otto Bock is a man named Tony. He has done the job for over forty years and watching him work is just amazing – I have never seen someone work so fast and make a difficult process look so easy.
I was not sure how, or why I was going to use leatherwork at this point of the project, but I knew that I really enjoyed the process and was keen to somehow integrate it into my work. Then I met the patient that would inspire me to make a prosthetic leg. He is an below-knee amputee who was in a motorcycle accident when he was a teenager. Becoming an amputee at a relatively young and fit age has meant that he was able to adjust and adapt to his new circumstances relatively quickly. He was involved in the ‘chap’ movement of modern gentlemen. This sub-cultural group live as though they are typical English ‘gents’ from yesteryear – wearing tweed, mustaches, brogues, vintage clothing from a bygone era. This seemed to fit in so well with my desire to use leatherwork, so I proposed that I make a prototype “Gentleman’s Leg”, inspired by this man.
Quickly, I got to researching brogue patterning on shoes and found that the use of patterning on these shoes is because they were worn in marshy, swampy areas. The holes from the patterns served as drainage. Initially thought to have developed in Scotland and Ireland, these shoes that were once working men’s shoes became gentlemen’s shoes.
I decided to go with this and started playing around with laser-cutting the leather I had been given by the technicians at Otto Bock. This is when the project really started to come to life and I was able to start designing pieces specifically with my patient in mind.
I decided to use a combination of Beech wood and leather as a reference to the materials formerly used in the manufacture and fabrication of prostheses. It created a link with the past – Beech was historically used for its strength and durability, leather for its comfort and warmth.
Through manipulation of materials and applying their use to the modern day, I was aiming to create a link with the past and to highlight the positive aspects of using those materials. I specifically wanted to make a prosthetic leg that was bespoke, tailored like a suit would be and with the patient’s personality in mind. This move away from fast production and cheap materials means that it took longer to make, but was very much in keeping with the patient’s needs and tastes. I hoped to highlight that disabled individuals were just that – individuals. In the same way you might choose a new outfit, I am hinting that perhaps prosthetics can be picked and chosen in the same way. I hope that my concept could highlight a similar need in the design of prosthetics and medical aids.
Further reading and information can be found by visiting my website and my research blog. For a refreshing look at prosthetics, please also watch this video by Aimee Mullins at a TED talk she gave a few years ago. If you have any questions, please do get in contact with me.
Posted: August 22nd, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | No Comments »
"Pets" by Jono Redden
Last week’s article in the Irish Times about Dublin’s yellow benches which invite strangers to talk to each other, reminded me of several projects from our student design competition, Designing for the Future, which have focussed on alleviating loneliness in older people.
Jono Redden is interested in the impact of light on mood and in particular loneliness. As part of his Graduate Show, Jono exhibited “Pets“ which are lights designed to evoke the shapes of domestic pets such as cats. The lights are connected to the internet and in particular social media sites. The more of your friends who come on line, the brighter the light shines thus reminding you of a world (albeit virtual) outside the isolation of your home. This is the first time I have seen the virtual online world made manifest in this way.
Lucy MacDonald on the other hand was concerned with combating loneliness in a much more direct way. “The Public Rocking Bench” invites the users to share the gentle rocking sensation of this piece of public furniture thus stimulating interaction between people rather like Dublin’s yellow benches.
Finally this year, Florence Pike explored how neighbours could be encouraged to talk to each other: “My products are designed to encourage communication between neighbours. I have used the garden fence to symbolise a social barrier. The application of my products transforms it into a meeting point. The ‘Tea for Two’ set draws people to the fence allowing neighbours to come together and share a cup of tea as they garden. The ‘Swivel Hatch’ is designed for high fences, allowing you to communicate with your neighbour by leaving messages, sharing gardening tools or simply having a chat.
My products encourage conversation and friendship in the home environment where elderly people feel most comfortable. They promote gardening as a great way of being social and they expose people to the mental and physical benefits of being outdoors and also add an attractive focal point to the garden fence and fence post.
Some very interesting ideas here as to how product design can help encourage more social interaction. With recent estimates suggesting that as many as one million people over the age of 65 say that they are often or always lonely, this is an area of design which certainly deserves more focus
Posted: August 15th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Inclusive design, Offers and competitions | No Comments »
Win Silicone Flexible Tongs from OXO Good Grips
Our mission at The Future Perfect Company is to promote good design for our ageing population and we are always keen to work with like minded designers and businesses. Here we have teamed up with product development company, Hymid R&D, to give you the chance to win a pair of our fabulous OXO Good Grips tongs. An essential tool for any well designed kitchen.
My name’s Richard Child and I’m part of a product development company called Hymid R&D. Our mission is to nurture innovative ideas into existence, and we’re currently working on a product for the Independent Living industry. Everything we do is driven by our passion for beautiful design that’s simple, functional and provides the best user experience possible. We have a small team that’s based in Devon, and would love to keep you updated on our progress.
Today we’re excited to announce that we’re teaming up with The Future Perfect Company, to offer you the chance to get involved in a newsletter prize draw. Philippa has been an essential contact for Hymid R&D and we can’t thank her enough for her help and support.
You can sign-up to our newsletter via our website (http://www.hymidrandd.co.uk/). We update the newsletter every time we have something important to share, and we’ll never spam your inbox. Nobody likes that.
To enter the prize draw*, simply sign-up to our newsletter here : http://www.hymidrandd.co.uk/ . Everyone who signs up within 2 weeks from the date of this blog post is automatically entered, and the winner will be picked at random. The prize is a pair of Silicone Flexible Tongs by OXO Good Grips from The Future Perfect Company’s cookware range. OXO is a company that we admire, as their products are beautifully designed, simple and easy to use. Our driving principles.
* Prize Draw Rules
1. Entry to the competition is restricted to one entry per person please.
2. Multiple entries will be disqualified.
3. Automated entries, bulk entries or third party entries will be disqualified
4. The competitions is open to UK residents only.
5. Prizes can only be sent to a valid UK address.
6. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
7. The winner will be contacted via email.
8. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to.
9. The competition will run from today until 28 August 2012.
Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Grandparents, Housing | No Comments »
As more and more families opt for a multi-generational holiday, nineteen year old student, Caitlin writes about what it is like to holiday with her grandparents.
My grandparents have always played a huge part in my life. They were in their 50’s when I was born and have always been active and not ‘armchair grandparents’ as some of my friends affectionately call theirs. Because of this I have spent a week with them in their villa in Portugal every year for nineteen years and it has never seemed odd to me.
However this year it was a little different; in the year since my last holiday with them I have moved out of my family home and gone off to University, which means I have essentially started my adult life and gained masses of independence. So, naturally coming back home for the summer was a little strange- simple things like not doing my own food shopping and having to ask my parents if my boyfriend (of four years) can come over. So, going on holiday with my grandparents meant that I was not only the child, I was the grandchild. As most people probably can understand, no matter how old you are, the role you have in the family will never change; you will always be the child, the grandchild.
I spent the holiday regressing so that I was once again the child in the family; easy going and joining in with activities whilst at the same time springing into my nineteen year old self if anything needs to be done like cooking dinner or helping lift something heavy. It is a really natural way of being and I do not even notice I am doing it.
My grandparents are fairly traditional – they do not like piercings, tattoos, reality television – and on a lot of these points I agree with them but the reason they dislike these things are different from mine – my generation is different from theirs and I am growing up in a completely different culture. I am devoted to my laptop, I use social media, I don’t watch much TV preferring iPlayer or YouTube. These things do not translate easily with most grandparents. So we leave technology behind for a week and focus on things that we all enjoy, like going out for lunch, hanging around the pool and going to the beach. My sister, cousins and I also read during our holiday because my grandparents are big on reading and it is something we can all join in with and discuss; it is something that’s inclusive for all generations.
I suppose the thing about family holidays is that no matter how old you are, you can always enjoy being in a hot country, eating good food and have fun spending time with your family away from the stress of rainy England. And for that week you naturally slot into your role in the family and the generational gap disappears because you are in a totally neutral situation that you can all enjoy for what it is, a family holiday.