I and Lieutenant No.2 – went to the Design Museum to see the Terence Conran Exhibition and take a look at The Carbon Black Wheelchair I mentioned in my previous post –  ‘Update on Trendy Wheelchairs’. It is a prototype devised by iimagine design in the U.S. (see the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYArQv0lX_w&feature=related ).

I wasn’t allowed to try the chair as it was a prototype; I touched it and the wheels fell off!! It did look very good but the seat looked hard and the tyres were ‘slicks’ so gripping looked difficult particularly as no brakes were evident. We also couldn’t see how it folded-up. Nevertheless I am eagerly awaiting more information.

the Design museum is worth a visit as it’s very accessible, – lift to every floor, helpful staff and good facilities. However I have written to Sir Terence Conran on the lack of well designed disability equipment. I can feel a new campaign coming!? I’ll let you know if I ever get a response.

The Blueprint Cafe is the restaurant at the Museum this is reviewed in my next post.

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  1. Andrew Slorance


    I am pleased you saw Carbon Black at the Design Museum. The chair on display is a prototype and as with most of the exhibits can’t be moved off the display stand. I am not sure why one of the wheels came off but I doubt it was with you only touching it! If you lifted it up from the footrest you may have pulled a quick release front wheel off – The front wheels are tied with cables to the exhibition display stand so would detach from the chair if you lifted it.

    The seat is carbon fibre and designed to accept a wheelchair users cushion. A full time user would never sit directly on a wheelchair without a cushion, and most users will have a pressure relief cushion prescribed for them, hence the reason wheelchairs don’t come with padded seats. The full carbon frame and seat give Carbon Black outstanding energy efficiency. The chair dismantles via a quick release mechanism into small components and is the most compact rigid frame chair on the market. They tyres fitted are slicks and offer the best energy efficiency of any wheelchair, off road tyres could also be fitted if desired. Brakes are not fitted to the display chair but a user would only use a brake on a wheelchair as a parking brake and not in the same fashion as you would on a bike. The wheels on Carbon Black have built in pushrims to grip when pushing the chair.

    I Imagine Ltd is a UK company and will be putting Carbon Black into production later this year. Anyone interested in knowing more about Carbon Black can register at http://www.iimaginedesign.com and they will be contacted when the chair is commercially available.


    Andrew Slorance Designer of Carbon Black and Director of I Imagine Ltd

    1. Andy

      Hi Andrew,

      I look forward to watching the BBC doc about your chair next week. While I think it is great that you are pushing the boundaries of wheelchair design, which can only be a good thing. I can’t help thinking that you have designed the best possible chair for your own use and probably only indoor use at that. Our son has Muscular Dystrophy and uses a TiLite chair, we looked at the Marvel M1 when Cyclone had a few to demo but we got the impression that was again designed by people with a specific disability for other people with the same disability, i.e. the more active user.

      Our son would benefit from a tough but lightweight chair, at the moment he self-propells for some of the day but uses a power chair when he gets tired. Brakes are a must for him as he uses them to transfer. Sideguards protect his clothes from our muddy drive, he needs anti-tip wheels because he doesn’t have the strength in his body to do wheelies and he needs push handles as we tend to push him in the manual chair. We find that 4.5″ front casters are the smallest we can use to cushion the bumps and cracks in normal street pavements. All of that adds pounds to the overall weight of a chair so it’s all very well designing a chair which weighs in at 8.5kg in it’s socks but to be actually used by someone you have to add twice that to make it practical.

      Having said all that, I know there is a huge market for your chair, you say it is bespoke… Does that mean that every chair has to be tailored for the user and if it’s made of CF does that means zero adjustability? Whenever I hear the word “bespoke” that usually comes with an enormous pricetag. I just hope that it is affordable for the likes of our son – even though I don’t think your chair would be suitable for him. You have to remember that in the UK we don’t have the same health insurance that they do the US, up until now we have been lucky to get assistance from children’s charities but our son turned 18 last February and consequently there are very few charities which will now help him afford a chair like yours.

      I wish you the best of luck with the project and I sincerely hope many people benefit from the innovative design but please don’t forget all the other people who could benefit if you altered the design – or came up with something even better for the less able.

      All the best,


  2. keith white

    is the chair on the market at present? i am a wheelchair user, and like you, spent time trying to ge the perfect chair, which i am close to at the moment for me.
    i saw the programme on TV, and i am somewhat hooked on the chaire.
    if you can get in touch, i would appreciate it.