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A Collection Of Mobility Aids Aimed At Helping Us Age Gracefully

Two young designers add function and taste to products designed to tackle the physical setbacks of old age.

In this multifunctional age, it’s astonishing that the walking cane still, by and large, does only one thing, albeit now in a wide range of materials and designs: offer support for those who need help getting from point A to point B. That’s incredibly useful, of course, but what if they want to bring a cup of coffee along with them without the fear of spilling it? A new collection of walking aids, designed by the Italian-Singaporean duo Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai (known together as Lanzavecchia Wai), not only performs the role of traditional canes but, equipped with wheels and table and basket attachments, allows seniors to tote around everything they need.

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“We started this project from personal experiences with our elderly relatives as well as observations stemming from them,” the pair tells Co.Design. “For instance, Francesca’s grandmother could not bring the daily coffee to her grandfather when she lost some mobility, and it made her sad. So Francesca thought why not make a walking aid for her that allowed her to continue this life ritual.” Together, Lanzavecchia and Wai designed three different canes with attachments associated with different functions: The “T” features a tray for carrying beverages; the “U” has a container for magazines, books, or knitting supplies; and the “I” sports an iPad stand.

But the designers didn’t stop there. The canes are part of a larger collection called No Country for Old Men, which addresses many of the issues and frustrations of aging. The Assunta chair helps older people, who often experience the loss of muscle strength, get up from a seated position by using their own weight as leverage against a foot bar. And MonoLight is an LED lamp with an integrated magnifying screen attached to a dodecagon-profiled base, allowing it to be tilted at various angles.

All of the pieces fulfill their respective functions without screaming infirmity or compromising aesthetics. “We feel that the range of products should not be any different from the possessions that we have consciously selected according to our tastes and preferences up to the point of needing these aid objects,” Lanzavecchia and Wai say. In fact, the designers joke, “considering our acquired laziness from our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and bad eye sight from staring at our devices’ screens,” one can appreciate them just as much in their 20s as in their 80s.

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About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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