Designers take a walker on the wild side

04/30/2014

Of all the poorly designed products that pollute our landscape and infuriate users, the typical walker ranks right near the top. It's not just the aesthetics of the device that make it look like it came out of a Soviet-era design bureau, but it forces users to hunch over, compounding the indignity of having to rely on this device to move about. I'm a journalist, not a designer, so all I can do is rant about it. But industrial designers Jeremy Knopow and Jennifer Harris share my displeasure, and they have the tools and ambition to do something about it. Their company Motivo has developed the Tour, a walker designed for people, not patients, as they like to say. By applying design principles and materials from the automotive and aerospace sectors, they have engineered a new-age walker that looks, well, cool enough for aging boomers.

Harris and Knopow founded Motivo because they both had parents who used walking aids and felt that they deserved better than these rudimentary, medical-looking devices. "So, we quit our corporate jobs at SC Johnson about three years ago and founded Motivo," Harris told PlasticsToday. After spending three years conducting interviews with potential users and healthcare professionals and developing prototypes, Harris and Knopow launched the Tour on the global stage earlier this month via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

A monocoque design, borrowed from the aerospace industry, allows users to stand upright and walk inside the device, not hunched over, as is the case with most rolling walkers on the market. The design also enables people to get much closer to grocery shelves and sinks, for example, than conventional walkers. A stow-away seat and private storage area that does not need to be emptied when the walker is folded up are other features that draw praise from users.
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