Last year we challenged design students from Brunel University London’s Co-Innovate programme to design innovative, stylish and practical accessories to be attached to any wheelchair. They answered our call with 22 fantastic designs which we then put up for a public vote. Today we are pleased to say that voting results are in and we can finally reveal which of the twenty two stylish and practical new wheelchair accessory designs have won our Style My Chair competition and will now move on towards manufacture.
We were so pleased with the response to the competition that we decided that, not only will we make prototypes and aim to produce the winning design, we’re going to do so for the second and third placed designs as well. There were simply too many fabulous and innovative designs to ignore.
The next stage in the process will hopefully be at the annual Made In Brunel show (18th-21st of June) where we plan to reveal the prototypes. After that will be further adjustment and we will keep moving towards making these accessories available to buy. We want to thank everyone who voted and everyone from Brunel who entered a design into the competition – there were so many beautiful, creative and practical ideas that we may well return to one day. However, the voters have spoken and there were three clear stand out designs in the poll which have been selected as the winners of the inaugural Style My Chair competition. Here are your winners…
1st Place – Expression Wheel Covers – Kyle Ian Dawney
With 20% of the vote in a field of 22 designs, Expression Wheel Covers were, by some distance, the most popular design in the competition. These clip on covers come in subtle but complex curved forms to bring style to wheelchair wheels in a more tasteful and cooler way than conventional spoke covers. We’re looking forward to seeing what other patterns and manufacturing techniques can be used to create stylish, individual designs that express the users’ personality.
“I think it is great that people can express their personality and be able to have something more exciting rather than the same old bland wheelchair”
Expression Wheel Covers were so popular amongst voters because they could provide self expression and effortless style to a boring wheelchair design. Voters told us that the covers look “exciting”, “funky”, “eye catching” and one person even went as far as to say they’re “perfect”. Many people gave us feedback saying that they, or a young wheelchair user they know, would love to have a pair and would definitely buy them if and when they’re available. We were also particularly pleased (and actually a little bit proud) to hear people say that they think they could help to change perceptions of disability. For insance, saying that:
“Some without wheelchairs will be challenged to re-examine their own thoughts and feelings, and wheelchair users may have more positive feelings associated with their own wheelchairs, ultimately to their social and emotional benefit.”
Now wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to see happen? Voters felt that these covers could help show that disability is not only ‘normal’ but that it can be cool too!
2nd Place – BackBackPack – India Pappalardo-Strachan and Emily Tulloh
In second position was this fantastic BackBackPack design which combines functionality, security, practicality and style. The feedback was a little bit more mixed, with those who voted both for this design and for others saying that they love the concept but have issues with the execution as things stand. Some had issues concerning how easy it would be to access the bag when it’s on your back and we will pass these comments onto the designers as they move on to making a prototype. Fortunately there should now be lots of time to sort out the problems and produce something brilliant soon.
“I need it, I would spend money to have it, I would use it daily and be grateful to have it”
The buzzword for these bags was definitely “style”, with voters saying they would fill a real gap in the market for a genuinely stylish bag which can be used with a wheelchair. For someone whose whole life is on the back of their wheelchair it would be ideal to have something secure but classy to keep their belongings. One voter summed the design up simply and succinctly: “Fashion”.
3rd Place – Honey Comb Cup Holder – Henry Davies
There were quite a few cup holder designs in the Style My Chair competition but the one that stood out most to voters was this Honey Comb design. The problem of carrying a drink while using a wheelchair was something that resonated with people who voted for all cup holders but the versatility, as well as the look, of this design was what seemed to win it the most votes:
“It was made for any kind of glass. No need to adjust anything to fit that certain type of glass. It was genius.”
We will now be taking this information back to Brunel and encouraging and assisting them as much as we can to prototype, test and bring the winning designs to market. It’s worth mentioning that many of the people who voted have said how impressed they were with all the designs and wished they could vote again for another design! However, having extended our ambitions from one to three designs, we felt that that will be quite enough work for now.
Congratulations again to the winners of the Style My Chair competition. We hope we can create real change with these designs and if we’re successful we hope to return with more designs in the future!