Getting older sometimes also means becoming physically challenged. Simple things, such as getting in and out of bed, can feel like climbing a mountain. Different bed solutions are already on the market, but a small international company wanted a well-thought-through bed, functionally as well as aesthetically. So they turned to Danish designer Hans Sandgren Jakobsen
”What we knew about Hans Sandgren Jakobsen before we started this process was that he was incredibly skilled, very thorough and very good at every phase within the design process. Our expectations have been fulfilled and then some.”
The quote is from Martin Riis Holm. He is the founder, owner and CEO of RotoBed®, a company manufacturing care beds supported by assistive technology internationally. Meeting at the company´s showroom showcasing the new RotoBed®, not only on a podium spotlighted as a piece of art but also packed and stacked in a box on a europallet ready for shipping, he looks like one very pleased man. The pleasant vibe is caused by the holistic solution the RotoBed® has turned out to be:
”When you first hire a designer you tend to think that he or she will turn your product into something that also has a twist of elegance and aesthetic. But working with Hans has proved to me that design is about a consistent focal point on the needs of the final users of the product.”
In this case not only the one to sleep in it but also relatives or care assistants.
Customized for every need
The RotoBed® is a bed designed for people who lack the physical ability to get in and out of bed by themselves.This new solution gives these disadvantaged people a renewed feeling of independence and freedom and extends the period of time in which they can help themselves. Even when you get to the point where you need a carer the experience will be better and more dignified as you don´t need two people and a crane but rather one carer with whom you can have a conversation.
The bed is divided into three parts – head, middle and feet. The middle section can be turned by remote control and elevated to lift the user’s upper body and lower the person´s feet towards the floor – practically turning the bed into a chair.
The bed comes with or without extra rails and in different kinds of wood.
Martin Riis Holm explains how the design process revealed how users in Australia have a specific need for the bed to sink much lower than in Europe, as guard rails are not used in Australia. By researching in the area of anatomy and physical disadvantage caused by certain diseases, the angle in which the bed should be positioned to help people get out of it became obvious. What also became clear was the importance of something as simple as the signing on the remote control.
”It makes no sense to create a state-of-the-art bed if users are not able to control it – all because the signs on the remote control confuse them”, Martin Riis Holm smiles as he sends a warm thought to the Danish company Linak, which has been very helpful in developing the remote control.
If you go through the portfolio of Hans Sandgren Jakobsen you will find not only a series of chairs, but also handles and knobs as well as exhibitions in cooperation with different artists. Nowhere though is there design for physically disabled groups or health care products. This was exactly why he took on the task.
”Design is not only about the final product. The exciting part of my job is how we get to the product – all the elements we have to research, all the ideas we have to come up with, which ones of those we choose to work with and then, finally, the challenge of how to combine all the functionality with aesthetics,” he says and continues:
”I learned a lot throughout this process and the craftsmen executing all of the different prototypes for the rails, the engine underneath the bed, the rotation system and so forth have all used their insights regarding usability and have been easy and inspirational to work with.”
Like Martin Riis Holm, Hans Sandgren Jakobsen is also quite happy about how the RotoBed® can be packed in a way so exactly 30 beds will fit into a 40-foot container. But his favourite solution applied to the RotoBed® is to be found in the detail.
”Of course it´s a bit of a cliché – because now I am focusing on aesthetics – but it says so much about the starting point of this process: Everything from screws to wheels are now in a dark grey. Every element of the assembly is either hidden or removed in order to make the bed as presentable and safe to move around as possible. This give me great satisfaction,” Sandgren says.
The reason it is – and why he refers to – the ”starting point” is because a lot of users need the RotoBed® in their private home:
”When you become physically disabled you don´t need to be reminded more than you already are. The bed should be a safe haven and not give you a sore eye as well as making you feel more ill just by looking at it. People in need of a RotoBed® may have lost some of their physical abilities, but their interior doesn´t have to reflect this.”
RotoBed® will be available as of January 2018.