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Three lessons from disrupting an industry

In relation to winning the FedEx Small Business Grand Prize, FedEx came to our office and interviewed our CEO Anders Berggreen. In this interview, he explains the beginning of byACRE and shares his top three lessons from disrupting an industry:

Three lessons from disrupting an industry

Going from producing film and TV series to designing innovative mobility aids might not seem like a logical career path, but that’s the move made by Anders Berggreen, CEO of byACRE.

The Copenhagen-based business, which was recently named the grand prize winner of the FedEx Small Business Grant 2021, was co-founded by Berggreen and COO Susanne Nørmark in 2015. However, it wasn’t until later that they came up with the idea for the design-led, carbon-fibre rollators – four-wheeled walking aids – that the company produces today.

The idea was the result of a chance meeting with the CEO of another rollator manufacturer at a product fair, where Berggreen was showing a different product. He soon found that he was seeing rollators everywhere he looked – but that they all looked the same.

“I thought about my father, who died of Parkinson’s. My grandma was 97 and she never felt old. [I thought] why can’t we make something cool for them? Let’s see if we can do something to reverse the perception of what a rollator is.”

He also spotted a business opportunity. The global mobility aid devices market was worth an estimated $7.8bn in 2020 and is set to increase to $9.9bn by 2028.1 But Berggreen argues that booming demand is also making existing businesses in the space lazy. “They’re growing like crazy, these stores. Turnover is going up and up,” he says.

Yet launching a new business with a product that disrupts the status quo comes with its share of challenges. A key hurdle is convincing people of the need to do things differently. Securing funding from the bank was a challenge, and persuading retailers to stock the products wasn’t easy either. “They didn’t believe in us,” he explains. “We tried to go through retailers, but they were very resistant.”

Despite the difficulties, Berggreen and Nørmark have built byACRE into a thriving global business. Here are some of the lessons they’ve learned about what it takes to be a disruptor.

1. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Once they started paying attention to the rollator market, Berggreen and Nørmark quickly realised where it was falling short.

“It was obvious there was a lack of design in this industry,” Berggreen explains. “We very quickly found out that was because the way [the existing companies] looked at users was as patients – not people with hopes and dreams.”

Berggreen and Nørmark saw there was a market for a rollator designed for consumers who needed mobility aids but still wanted to travel, go out with family and friends, and generally live an active life. “We simply took age out of the equation,” he explains.

 

Top tip

To find out what is most important to your customers, just ask them. Berggreen and his team took to the streets and asked people what they ideally wanted from a mobility device, or what they liked and disliked about the rollator they currently owned. “And then they opened up,” says Berggreen. “That discussion grew and [we became] able to paint a picture of what was needed.”

 

2. Look outside the industry for design inspiration

Rather than looking at existing rollator designs and finding ways to improve them, the byAcre team took a different approach to designing their prototype. Berggreen explains that he wanted byAcre’s rollator to communicate “activeness” so, as a starting point, he filled a wall with pictures of things that had an active appearance, from sharks and eagles to sports cars and fighter jets.

“When you looked at the wall you could see this organic shape, so we thought that we have to create something that has this organic shape. That’s how the design came out,” he explains. “It was a very good process; I could sit there with my engineers and say, ‘is it active?’”

 

Top tip

“For redesigning a product, don’t listen to the trade,” advises Berggreen. “Or if you do, remember there’s a lot of bias.” He explains how, in byAcre’s early days, retailers regularly told him that consumers weren’t interested in the type of product he was showing, or wouldn’t be prepared to pay its price point – which was the opposite of what the team was hearing from consumers. “If you want to innovate, doing it together with trade is difficult, almost impossible. You can deal with the trade later,” he says.

 

3. Find and nurture your early adopters

While a large proportion of customers that need a mobility device are older people, the byAcre team realised their products were also becoming popular with a younger – and social media savvy – demographic as well.

But developing a strong online presence was always an important part of byAcre’s strategy. “Buying a rollator is a very big decision and it’s very private. Our theory was that people would start doing their research on the net,” he says.

Berggreen says that disability advocates and bloggers who post pictures of themselves going about their lives with their byAcre rollators have been among the company’s most important ambassadors, with their enthusiasm for the brand helping to spread the word.

Building the byAcre name this way translated into real-world demand, too, with customers asking in stores for products they’d seen online, Berggreen says. “Then it started to spread.”

 

Top tip

When launching a disruptive product, Berggreen says, “just be extremely persistent”. Winning over core consumers early on helped the byAcre team to convince retailers to stock their rollators.

 

 

Source: FedEx – byACRE: Three lessons from disrupting an industry –  April 2022

 

Meet Michael from South Carolina, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Michael’s story:

Michael first got MS in 2004, but after an attack in 2009 his walking ability has been on a slow decline. He started using a cane in 2016, two canes in 2018, and a rollator in 2020. The rollator was hard to accept at first, but he needed something sturdier and searched for “cool rollators” and came across our Carbon Ultralight. It helped, in his words, an “image conscious 33 year old”.

During Michaels journey, he has been on five different DMT and explored and implemented diet changes, exercises and alternative therapies. He explains that each element has had pros and cons (and varying degrees of effectiveness), but that he overall remains thankful for the opportunities and hopeful for better days!

Talking about better days, during MS awareness month 2022, Michael got married to his wife, Victoria! He describes her as “an amazing person with a huge heart and a big smile, that inspires me everyday”. Even though Michael is now mainly using a wheelchair, he used his rollator to stand tall and meet her by the altar.

“For my upcoming nuptials, although we will be sitting for most of the ceremony, I plan to stand proudly while my bride walks down the aisle, using my byACRE”

– Michael on how he planned to use his rollator at his wedding

Michael’s best rollator tips:

  1. Stay positive! That doesn’t mean hide how you’re feeling if you’re feeling down, allow yourself some grace, but I’ve found success treating MS as a problem I need to do my part to solve… Or at least tolerate and compartmentalize 😉
    It is not your whole world, you are “worth” just as much as before your diagnosis.
  2. Build a great team. This means family, friends, community, and medical. Have open and frank conversations about what you can do in life, and what you need a little help or understanding with. Stay engaged in your community, including the local MS community, it will be rewarding. And medically, I highly recommend finding care from a MS specialist neurologist, and/or medical institution or university. They should be able to provide you with a high degree of personalized care.
  3. Explore all the alternative/complementary therapies there are – but stay on the meds. After my first four relatively controlled years, I decided to take a break from my DMT. I went back on it after about six months, but my slow decline in walking ability had started in those months. I have found tremendous help from eating a clean diet (or trying to), vitamin d, probiotics, cbd, acupuncture, massage, etc.
 

Meet Tara from Colorado, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Tara’s story:

“I started showing MS symptoms in 2012, after the birth of my second daughter. I started using a rollator in 2016. At first, I only used it at home, and I was really embarrassed about needing a mobility aid in my 30’s.

At first, using a rollator was hard to accept. It felt overwhelming to be losing my mobility due to MS at the same time I was raising a young family. Over time I realized that using a rollator made it easier for me to be a better wife and mother because I could do more with less effort. I had only used a cane a few times, so using a rollator was a big adjustment, but also a big help.

I use a rollator every day when I am on my feet. I also use a wheelchair sometimes now, but my rollator is still one of my most frequently used mobility aids.

Using a rollator has changed my life for the better. I am able to accomplish more things and stay on my feet longer when I use it. I’m also able to get outside and enjoy activities with my family more often. Learning to use a rollator has been one of the most helpful tools along my MS journey.”

“Over time I realized that using a rollator made it easier for me to be a better wife and mother because I could do more with less effort”

– Tara on starting to use her rollator more publicly

Tara’s best rollator tips:

  1. View your rollator as a tool that helps you to live better.
    Maybe even call it an “accessory”.
  2. Wear clothing that you feel confident in.
    When you stand tall and feel good about yourself, a rollator is easier to use.
  3. Give yourself grace. It can take time to adjust to a new MS diagnosis and/or using a mobility aid. It will get easier!
 

Meet Nora from North Carolina, USA

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Nora’s story:

Nora has had MS symptoms since she was in her 20s, starting with affecting her vision. She didn’t have any mobility issues until her 30s, when she began to have tingling in her left leg for months and could barely walk. She then got physical therapy to learn to walk with a cane.

This cane stayed with her for a long time. Too long.
It was a mobility aid that she outgrew, but continued using to “look less disabled”, which it didn’t. And whilst trying to look cool, she waisted so much energy that she could have spent on her loved ones. This realization helped her to borrow an old rollator, which then started her search for a better one. That’s how she found us!

One of Nora’s best MS tips, that changed her life, is “my body isn’t me”. When people saw her struggle one day more than the other, they would say “I see you’re having a bad day”. That made her realize that no, that is her body having a bad day, not her. She refuses to let her unpredictable body determent if she’s having a good or a bad day. That’s to her mind to decide.

“It is not just what I need, it is what I need to project to the rest of the world”

– Nora on how a mobility aid creates awareness for others

Nora’s best MS tips:

  1. My body isn’t ME! People ask if I am having a “Bad Day” when they see me struggling with physical MS symptoms. I let them know I refuse to let how I am doing as a person to be based on how well my body works physically from one day to the next because MS can be too unpredictable. 
  2. Do not let your ego get in the way of asking for help or using what you need to make your MS life easier. If you need a cane, a rollator or wheel chair or a service dog, do not hesitate!  You do not look any cooler by struggling without help!
  3. Other people better understand what they can see. Using a rollator lets the world know you probably have balance issues & may need extra time or physical space without having to explain. When MS invisible symptoms are made obviously visible to others, people will be more careful around you.
  4. With MS, using a rollator is not only for balance. I conserve energy using a rollator because my body is not working as hard. It helps me to be more present to my loved ones throughout the day.
 

Meet Robert from Leeds, England

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Robert’s story:

Robert is 48 and a father of three teenage girls.
He was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and his disease causes vertigo and balance problems for him. He therefore needs a boost for stability and to stand correctly – which his Carbon Overland helps him with.

Robert has just only started using a rollator. He says that his own personality traits and stubbornness prevented him to come to terms with MS. But seeing the “slick design of Carbon Overland” and “so well designed pieces of kit” helped him massively.

In his daily life, Robert uses crutches and the rollator to move short distances and an electric scooter to go grocery shopping and spend time with his three girls. Talking about his three girls, he says that one should “prepare themselves for teenage girls”. He thinks they are always on their phones, which makes it harder to communicate. Yet, he says that they give him the reason to stay as well as possible!

“My three girls give me a reason to stay as well as possible”

– Robert on his role as a father of three teenagers

Robert’s best tips:

  1. Ask for the blue parking badge! I’ve had mine for six years, but I wish I would have had it earlier – by the time I got diagnosed.
  2. Embrace medical aids!
    I wish I would have done that earlier too.
  3. Never lose hope.
 

Meet Tricia from Switzerland

We have asked MS warriors to share their experience with MS and having a rollator.

This is Tricia’s story:

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2018, but with hindsight the symptoms started long before. My main stopper is the strong fatigue (cognitive and physically) and pain, so I need to compromise a lot. There are sadly a lot of other symptoms such as numbness, stimulus satiation, vision problems, which would be too many to summarize all here.

To priorities my daily energy, I allow my body and my brain to rest when they need to. I take it day by day and make my well-being a priority. That means I follow a healthy nutrition, be physically active when the pain allows it, do yoga and meditation, allow and accept my feelings – in short: I learnt to be a good caring friend to myself.

I do not use a rollator daily, only occasionally on “bad days” or when having a relapse, when my body is weak.
The reason why I chose the byACRE is because it’s light. I do not only have weak (and painful) legs but also weak arms. If I need a rollator on the so-called “bad days”, to push something heavy and bulky (especially when entering a bus or train etc.,) would probably make the situation worse, not better.

Also, the pinky color fits me because pink has always been my motivation color in sport. Plus, I wanted to set a statement: walking aids can be cool/sexy, they do not need to be boring.”

“I wanted to set a statement: walking aids can be cool/sexy, they do not need to be boring”

– Tricia on using the byACRE Carbon Ultralight rollator

Tricia’s best tips:

  1. Give it time, and I mean really time… learning that you have MS is nothing you digest in a few weeks or even months (I’m still learning).
  2. MS has a thousand faces, none is the same. Talk to your doctors; seek facts and advices from them, and from other serious and verified sources (books, online) and talk/connect with other affected people – while, at the same time, stay connected with yourself- because as I said, there is not “the one MS” and everyone experiences it differently.
  3. Be the best friend you could wish for to yourself; be patient and kind to yourself, challenge yourself while at the same time accept the (new) boundaries. Don’t be ashamed to use aids if they help you in daily life or bringing more quality into your life.
 

We are the Grand Prize Winners of FedEx’s Small Business Grant 2021! 

Grand Prize Winner

byACRE wins the European Grand Prize for the most innovative and passionate company in Europe 2021. The price is established by FedEx and is 50,000 EUR. byACRE was named the most innovative and passionate company in Europe among more than 2100 candidates – the highest number of nominations to date.

This was FedEx motivation for giving byACRE the first place prize:
“Their clear growth strategy and groundbreaking product was recognized by the jury as worthy of first place, an achievement they hope will help them remove the stigma associated with mobility challenges and help people stay active – without compromising their lifestyle. Through a focus on aesthetics and functionality, byACRE designs rollators for people, not patients, with the aim of helping people around the world rediscover their freedom of mobility and improve their quality of life. ”

How amazing it is that a small Danish company can achieve such great recognition, in front of several thousand nominees throughout Europe.

As pictured below – Team byACRE are so proud and grateful!

 

Even though research show that mobility is the most common disability facing older adults, it is an issue that is normally overlooked. In this blog post, originally published by SandGenLife, we’ve written about how we should change this behavior and how to open up for the discussion. 

Help Aging Family Members by Discussing Mobility Issues

The holiday season draws families, friends and neighbors together to spend quality time with one another. For many, this holiday season may be the first time they notice a change in a loved one’s health, including their personal mobility. It may be difficult to talk to aging family members about certain issues, mobility is an important one.

According to The U.S. Census Bureau, mobility is the most common disability facing older adults. Yet despite its prevalence, mobility is often the most overlooked. That’s often because people don’t know the signs to look for.

At your family gathering, is a family member remaining in one spot regardless of where the socializing occurs? Are they appearing uneasy while walking down the stairs? Balance, pace and pain when walking are all indicators a family member is struggling with their mobility. While these are the more physical indicators, it’s also important to recognize the more subtle signs, like changes in lifestyle and activity levels. Knowing how to identify mobility limitations can open the door for a respectful conversation this holiday season.

Once an issue has been recognized, it’s time to host a respectful, collaborative dialogue. Mobility loss can lead to other health ailments, like obesity, hypertension – and even chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes. This conversation can’t be delayed.

The first step is to respectfully listen and acknowledge their struggle with mobility. Initiating the conversation from a place of love and respect will create a productive discussion that can open the door for solutions. Once the issue has been raised, it may be time to visit a health care provider to rule out any underlying health issues; and explore your options.

For millions of Americans, that solution is a mobility aid, like a walker or rollator. There are many models on the market, so knowing what to look for can help your loved one find an option that reflects their lifestyle.

When shopping, consider what your family member enjoys. Do they like walking to their favorite store, or are they an avid gardener? A mobility aid with an attachment to hold items and a seat to rest would be an excellent solution. Do they like to travel to see friends or family? Then a walker that is lightweight and compact will complement their lifestyle. Weight may also be an important factor if your loved one has an older spouse or a relative in a caregiver role. Other factors to consider include accessory options, and opportunities for personalization.

Look to designs that your loved one can feel good about – the market is not as static as it once was. A mobility aid, something so essential to daily life, should be a point of pride and personal style. That was our approach to designing the Carbon Ultralight. We set out to challenge the category by converting a product that had traditionally denoted feelings of dependence and fragility into a point of pride.

Pride can be found in the little, less flashy details too. For example, we re-engineered the handles on the Carbon Ultralight so it enables users to stand taller and greet their surroundings with a stronger presence. This design brings the device closer to the user’s core and it improves their posture. There is a psychological connection between proper posture and confidence.

To us, mindful design is at its best when aesthetic and functionality can work in harmony. Look to companies and designs that are respectful of the consumer; and the lifestyle they want to lead.

This Thanksgiving, if you find yourself worrying about a loved one’s mobility, the best ways to help are by recognizing physical changes, spearheading a loving dialogue and seeking the right solutions. And remember, you aren’t alone in facing this.

Source: SandGenLife – Help aging family members by discussing mobility issues – 22 November 2019

 

After many years with out-dated mobility aids, design companies are finally listening and changing the industry. In this article by The Wall Street Journal, they are digging into the reason that pushed the change – and we’re proud to be part of it:

Why canes and walkers are getting a new look

Older people have long complained that products designed for them are clunky and unattractive.

Now investors and inventors are starting to listen to their complaints.

As the population of people 65 and over grows, so does their spending power in the marketplace—and designers are taking notice. More companies are offering walkers, canes and other products that deftly assist the elderly—and are stylish at the same time. And investors are helping more of those businesses get to market.

The boomer generation is the first to wield its considerable spending power to reject bad design, says Patricia Moore, an industrial designer. As a 20-something in the 1970s, Dr. Moore disguised herself for a year as an octogenarian to fully understand how design fails older people.

“We were the ones always fighting for social change and looking good doing it,” says the designer, now 67 years old. “Now the medical model of aging doesn’t suit us, and we’re using consumer choice to drive the change.”

Speeding up evolution

Products such as walkers and canes have been slow to evolve aesthetically over the past century as designers focused largely on products for their young, mobile peers and largely ignored the desires of the elderly, says Chris McGinley, a senior research fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design in London’s Royal College of Art.

But, Dr. McGinley says, a shift in the way design thinking is taught in schools—as well as the slow death of the “superstar, egocentric designer”—has meant the needs and desires of older people are now being considered by those who develop products for them.

“Research-and-design ethnography methods that teach people to understand the end-user experience seemed quite niche 10 or so years ago; now, they’re a part of most good design courses,” Dr. McGinley says.

When designers ask older people what they want from products, the answer is often simple: to not look like something a frail, invalid person would use, says Don Norman, a former Apple designer. Now 84 years old, he believes designers too often equate age with poverty.

“Don’t we all find more attractive furniture or clothing and pay a bit more for it throughout our lives?” he says. “Why should it be different for this time in life?”

The request for a cool-looking walker or a well-designed long-term-care facility goes deeper than vanity, says Charlotte Yeh, chief medical officer of AARP, who used a cane herself for a number of years after a car accident in 2011.

“We have to address the damaging imagery of aging: Old-fashioned mobility and medical devices can turn you into an object of pity,” Dr. Yeh says. “When you bring a sense of design and beauty and aesthetics to them, people will talk about them, and people will talk to you—it becomes a way to connect.”

This group has power in numbers: In 2018, there were 52 million Americans over the age of 65, a figure that will nearly double to 95 million by 2060, according to the Census Bureau. And Boston Consulting Group projects that Americans over 55 will account for half of all domestic consumer-spending growth from 2008 to 2030.

Yet Ipsos research found that 82% of those over age 55 say their favorite retail brand no longer understands them or what they need. This feeling of alienation—plus a rise in internet literacy among seniors—is pushing the demographic to seek out and spend their money with brands that cater to their aesthetic needs, says Brian McMahon, founder of design research collective Segment International LLC.

“The idea that older folks are more brand loyal is an outdated view,” he says.

Many of the companies older adults are turning to have gotten into the niche fairly recently.

Danish design house byACRE ApS, which made its retail debut in 2018, is producing carbon-based rollators—walkers with wheels—as a sleek and lightweight alternative to the heavy-duty aluminum offerings sold in mobility shops. The Danish company has sold roughly 12,000 units since its launch, to customers in the U.S., Japan and Australia.

>Founder and chief executive Anders Berggreen was previously chief executive of Seed, a studio that sold high-end baby strollers. He began adapting his design skills for the senior market after someone at a design fair commented on the similarity between strollers and rollators.

Ten years ago byACRE wouldn’t have existed, Mr. Berggreen says. “Older people are using the internet more and googling ‘stylish rollator’ and finding us,” he says.

Another big change: End users are primarily making the purchases, he says. Previously, it was children or caregivers who did the buying, and simply chose whatever was on offer in mobility stores—which meant ease and good looks weren’t always prime considerations.

Source: Wall Street Journal – Why Canes and Walkers are Getting a New Look – 1 August 2020

 

Our Carbon Ultralight was recently featured by the design- and innovation savvy online magazine YankoDesign. YankoDesign are dedicated to cover the best in international product design and we’re proud to be in this category. In this product feature they highlight some of the design functions we are most proud of on our Carbon Ultralight Rollator:

This carbon fiber rollator’s handles will hold your hand

We love universal designs especially when they provide the freedom to move. Mobility is an especially important aspect to our differently-abled demographic that relies on inclusive design, so having a product that works for everyone including them is a true winner. That is why there is no surprise that the Carbon Ultralight rollator was featured on the Red Dot Design Awards! A rollator is basically a rolling walker with a seat that makes it easy to move without having to lift it up.

The name Carbon Ultralight is due to its biggest differentiating factor – the rollator is the lightest (and the first of its kind) in the world because of its complete carbon fiber frame. It only weighs 10.5 lbs (4.8 kgs) so it really is light light but the designers have also added some aircraft-grade aluminum to give it stability while moving and braking. The ergonomic build and shape have been inspired by organic bodies of fast animals (think dolphins, sharks, and falcons!) as well as the streamlined designs of sports cars from the automotive industry. One of the standout little details that make it a ‘clean’ design is that the brake cables are hidden inside the frame.

If you are currently social distancing, you will love the thought behind the shape of the rollator’s handles – the form is designed to give you a feeling of holding onto someone’s hand. This can provide a sense of security to the senior users as well as the differently-abled. Certain shapes and forms are known to provide a psychological comfort that can make the user confident about independently using the product. The handles are purposely turned into the opposite direction of the rollator to provide a better posture to the rider and making maneuvering easy. Its unique handles make riding effortless because you’ll be using your palms instead of your fingers to dictate the rollator’s direction. It also comes with detachable accessories like a backrest and organizer.

Another refreshing change was the upgrade to the height adjustment function – the designers replaced the traditional knob with a button that adjusts the height with 30 mm increments. It is a lot easier to keep track of the height this way if multiple people are sharing the rollator. Apart from being as light as a rollator could be if it was a feather, it is also super compact and when folded down it is only 255 mm wide. If you haven’t noticed yet, the Carbon Ultralight is not only highly functional but it also looks really sleek and stylish. Call your grandma now.

Source: YankoDesign – This carbon fiber rollator’s handles will hold your hand – 27 March 2020

 

Art Collector Barbara Jakobson has lived over 56 years in her vertical, yet inspiring home on Manhattan. How does she do it? She lets her house change along with her life – including welcoming her Carbon Ultralight Rollator. In this article by Curbed we get an insight of a creative living:

“I keep the transformation as proof of life.”

This house has a great history,” says Barbara Jakobson, much of which she made herself. She is 88 and has lived here since 1965, filling all five stories with her collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, and furniture. And the last thing she wanted to do was leave it. But a townhouse means a vertical life, and “after 56 years of stair-climbing without major incident, I was hurrying down from the top floor to the one below at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, October 23, tripped, and as I crashed to the landing below, I cursed my fate,” she says. Her tumble broke her leg, but, she says gleefully, “I did not hit my head!”

She immediately realized she needed to find a way to move between floors more safely. Probably one of those stairlifts, if she could find one she liked. The house could be adapted; it had always changed with her life as her collecting evolved. “I see the house as a vessel for an ongoing autobiographical exercise,” she says. “I keep the transformation as proof of life.”

They raised three children there. Barbara, who grew up across the street from the Brooklyn Museum and spent many hours in its galleries, had studied art and architectural history at Smith and, as an adult, began collecting art and got to know influential dealers, including Sidney Janis, Ileana Sonnabend, and Leo Castelli. She also had an interest in architecture, encouraged by MoMA curator Emilio Ambasz, and after becoming head of the Junior Council at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971, she organized a show of architectural drawings that included works by Peter Eisenman, Raimund Abraham, and Gaetano Pesce and became a trustee of MoMA in 1974.

Her many friendships are visible in these rooms: She and Robert Mapplethorpe were close, and she sat for many portraits by him. The Robert Morris felt piece in the foyer she bought in 1970; “Bob was a great pal. I really knew him until the end of his life.” She helped Sachs get his first job out of college, working with her when she was consulting for Knoll, doing the plywood furniture with Frank Gehry, “which I got Frank to do.”

                               Photo: Annie Schlechter

The Sitting Room: Jakobson’s new carbon-fiber walker mingles with totems of her life and interests. The portrait of Jakobson above the fireplace, one of many taken by Robert Mapplethorpe during their long friendship, is flanked with photographs by Matthew Barney. Richard Artschwager designed the chair in front of the fireplace. “I just thought it was so witty,” she says of the rubber vase with weeds by the Campana brothers in the middle of the room. The Lolita rug is by Barbara Bloom. The view is over the double-height room with the ghost Stella.

While recuperating from her fall, she looked into the right chairlift, one that might keep her in her house. She has always been fascinated by chairs. The first research paper she ever did, at age 13, was on the history of the chair. Why the chair? “Well, you know, the chair is the substitute for the human body. The chair is the only piece of furniture that relates to a single human being. So from the time you get in your high chair to the time you get in your wheelchair” — here, she laughs — “you’re dealing with chairs. And that’s why, I mean, in a way, that’s why the stair-climber, when I found it, I realized, Oh my God, it’s a chair; it’s going to save my life.

Source: Curbed – Art Collector Barbara Jakobson’s Vertical Life – 24 May 2021

 

As one of the articles in Financial Times’s guide to a longer (and healthier) life, they have written about the complexity of getting old while feeling young. How do you find mobility aids that suits your spirit? According to FT our rollators, along with other products that UK based “Granny Gets a Grip” is offering, has the answer:

The Cause: Meet the rock ‘n’ rollators

Getting old while feeling young is complicated. I was born in the 1960s; as a teenager I listened to Bowie, longed to go to Biba and aspired to eat McDonald’s. My lifestyle was liberal; I took drugs and the pill. I bounced about to Jane Fonda workouts and was an early adopter of Pilates. I’d say at 58 I still dress on the right side of timeless: from JW Anderson to Re/done jeans and my crisp Casey-Casey shirts. And I still love Bowie and Pilates. But however youthful my exterior may appear, the memo has not reached my joints. I was diagnosed with degenerative discs in my back 15 years ago, I have to ask my husband to open jars for me because my arthritic hands can’t manage, and it’s no fun trying to get up from the sofa without making “that noise” as I creak to standing. My eyesight is also shot and this week, for the first time ever, I got sciatica, which is really bloody painful! Apart from that, everything is great.

This morning I did a spot of online shopping; I ordered a pair of Adidas x Wales Bonner trainers, a Chanel mascara, and then I went to my new favourite website, Granny Gets a Grip. For those too young to know, its name is a nod to London’s hippest boutique of the 1960s, Granny Takes a Trip – a one-stop marketplace selling an ingenious edit of products designed for bodies that are showing signs of wear and tear. Founded by friends Sophie Dowling and Miranda Thomas, this website targets people who need a level of physical support but have a Conran Shop aesthetic.

Dowling and Thomas – both in their late 50s, like me, and who have have enjoyed successful careers as a website designer, and physics teacher and magistrate respectively – have scoured the marketplace for products to make life both easier and more chic, from mobility scooters to elegant LED reading lights. The colourful edit is full of satisfyingly practical solutions: long-handled shoe horns, brightly coloured walking sticks, ergonomic garden tools designed to minimise bending, a perching stool with stainless-steel legs, and a sloped sustainable bamboo seat – adjust the height and you’ll never have to worry about standing-induced backache again.

 The ByAcre red carbon Ultralight rollator is so sleek I’d happily roll it into Celine while shopping. 

Where possible, Dowling and Thomas have had things made, such as their furniture raisers, which make it easier to get up from a chair or a sofa. “They usually look awful, like grey plant pots – hence they’re often known as ‘elephant feet’,” shudders Dowling. “We have had attractive square blocks made from bamboo and hardwood – and now they look terrific.”

“We also paid particular attention to hand rails, which usually come in nasty white plastic or metal,” says Thomas. “We had ours made in solid oak with brushed-steel brackets.” It’s a level of detail for a generation who grew up with good design. “My sister is 67; she hung out with The Rolling Stones when she was young,” says Dowling. “She and her friends respond to the bright designs and the chatty language of the site.”

What’s remarkable is that the site feels so pioneering. It offers the opposite of the products in those drab, geriatric catalogues that, once you hit a certain age, start arriving through the door. A recent paper by KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank concluded that the “grey pound” represents the most considerable untapped opportunity in retail: it’s bigger than the “millennial pound” and, thanks to an ageing population, will only increase its market share.

I checked out with a haul including a memory foam knee pillow, which ticks a multitude of back-relieving boxes. Almost as exciting were the long-handle pet bowls – no more creaking first thing – and, lest we forget, the Dycem jar opener. With its non-slip cover, it’s only a tiny thing, and yet it is such a relief not to have to ask for help. Who would have thought mobility aids could be à la mode?

Source: Financial Times – The Cause: Meet the rock’n’ rollators – 5 October 2021

 

As part of the article “Universal Design Targets Products for All Ages” for Plastics Engineering, journalist Robert Grace has interviewed our CEO and founder, Anders Berggreen about byACRE’s design philosophy:

A Stylish Rollator. Really?

In 2004, byACRE’s Berggreen founded a firm called Seed, which sold premium baby strollers and pushchairs that he designed. He recalls: “Years ago, I was asked, ‘Would you not like to design a rollator?’ (a wheeled walker) And I said, yes, you are absolutely right, I would not like to design a rollator. Because I thought it was so unsexy and, for me, boring. I really was not interested in doing that.

“But after I said ‘no’ to that, I started seeing rollators everywhere. They looked to me like something manufactured in East Germany in the 1950s and ’60s. They were just so boring.”

Then Berggreen got to thinking of the importance of applying design to help those who were challenged in their mobility, not necessarily just older people. He read a study about people who needed such devices, and how they were lacking. He realized that those users tended to feel sick and embarrassed and their level of social activity declined almost to nothing.

So, after selling Seed and then founding byACRE in 2015, he said: “We made a design brief for ourselves: Can we make a rollator that looks like furniture?” He pondered how to take some of the references of classic Scandinavian design and incorporate them into such a product. The firm’s first rollator earned a prestigious design award.

Another important element of the mindset, he stresses, is that byACRE does not view its product users as “patients,” but rather as “customers.” They might be challenged in their mobility, but that doesn’t mean you are a patient. “There’s a very, very big difference,” he says, “between talking to a patient and talking to a consumer.”

Berggreen sees no reason why assistive devices such as rollators can’t be functional and stylish.

Consumers have free choice. They make their own decisions about what they like and don’t like. So byACRE aimed to create a rollator that someone would like to walk with. It wasn’t something that the user just got from an insurance company or from the healthcare system.

Berggreen says the response to early models was positive. He received letters from family members of those using byACRE’s rollators saying that the user had resumed a social life again. It is no accident that byACRE’s very name was assembled from the words “active” and “rehabitare”—Latin for “back to life.”

All About Losing Weight
While gathering this user experience, the byACRE team learned that the weight of the product was important to those customers. But, he says, manufacturers paid little attention to product weight. Most rollators then were made in China, for European and U.S. companies, “and nobody really cared about designing for this target group.”

The firm next turned its attention to finding how to produce a stylish yet lightweight frame. That led them to explore carbon fiber and resulted in its latest product—the Carbon Ultralight. Berggreen outlines the labor‐intensive, low‐pressure manufacturing process that byACRE uses to make its products in‐house, via operations in China, Myanmar, Sweden and Denmark.

First, there is carbon cutting. In this process, small prepreg sheets of the Japanese‐sourced carbon fiber are cut out and combined. This resembles a form of knitting or weaving, where the strands are woven in different directions. He says byACRE uses its “own special recipe” for this process, to yield a strong, lightweight frame. “This is the heart and soul of the Carbon Ultralight walking experience.”

Once the sheets are cut and woven, they are layered to create the special “boomerang” shape of the rollator frame. “Our frames consist of around three large pieces that are combined in different directions to form the unique shape.” Inside these overlapping sheets they insert silicone bladders to help the frames keep their shape during the next step, which is the baking process.

The construction is then placed inside a custom‐made mold, which is heated to 180°C and baked. The bladders inside are inflated incrementally to keep pressure and ensure that the shape holds. Once out of oven, the frames are fitted with cuttings and drillings done by hand at the top of the frame where clips and the handlebar are attached.

Once done, the frame parts are sent for painting. They first must be sanded by hand before being coated with layers of byACRE’s Oyster White, Carbon Black or Strawberry Red color paint. The frames are finished with a clear coating and a good polish, and after a careful inspection are sent off to be assembled.

It’s obvious, Berggreen notes, there is a lot of work involved in creating a Carbon Ultralight rollator. “Making the carbon fiber frames is only a small part of the entire production process, but it is very much in this step that the DNA of the rollator lies.”

The Carbon Ultralight model sells for between $600 and $650 in the U.S., and weighs just 10.5 pounds. While initially skeptical as to whether the product would be well received in the U.S. beyond a few major cities, he says byACRE has already sold the model in 48 states, as well as across Europe, and in South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Next: A ‘Masculine’ Model
Now, the firm is developing a Carbon Overland model that was due to launch about the time of this publication. It will have a “very masculine” look and feature bigger, air‐filled wheels that can be used to navigate through sand, mud and other off‐road surfaces. byACRE developed this model and partnered with Land Rover, to co‐promote it in conjunction with the automaker’s recently relaunched Defender sport utility vehicle.

When it comes to marketing, Berggreen explains, the messaging is vitally important. It’s a huge step mentally to go from using a cane to using a rollator. His approach is that “it’s a means of transportation much more than it’s a mobility aid, and I think that’s why it works.”

He doubts, frankly, that such a product could have succeeded a decade ago. But the internet has made a huge difference in buying patterns. Instead of doctors or caregivers going to medical equipment stores to buy the cheapest, sturdiest walker or rollator, now the user herself can research the product from home.

“With the internet,” he says, “people Google it and find information about these products. We can see on our website that people come and go and come back and take time to read our design philosophy. It gives them confidence. That would have been impossible 10 years ago.”

The full article “Universal Design Targets Products for All Ages” can be read at plasticsengineering.org.

 

We’re happy to announce that through ambitious design we’ve managed to break through the wall to the US market and we’re happy to announce our partnership with Medline, one of the world’s largest suppliers of equipment for the care and healthcare sector in USA, Canada and Mexico.

We are now yet another step closer to breaking down the stigma around mobility aids – worldwide. It’s a huge accomplishment for a small Danish team like us.

January 19, 2021

byACRE, Medline Announce North American Launch of World’s Lightest Rollator


Stylish and award-winning, Carbon Ultralight mobility aid innovation makes US debut

Medline and byACRE, a Copenhagen-based designer and producer of advanced mobility products, today announced a strategic partnership to meet the growing demand for stylish and functional mobility aids. Medline will distribute byACRE’s Carbon Ultralight rollator, the lightest rollator in the world. Winner of the prestigious RedDot Design Award, the carbon fiber rollator has received global recognition for breaking down the stigma related to reduced mobility, with advanced engineering, style and personalization.

“As people age, they often find themselves needing a mobility aid to assist with daily activities of living. It is a vulnerable moment as it can be hard to accept the dependence of an aid like a cane, walker or rollator,” says Anders Berggreen, founder and owner of byACRE. “Our goal is to create high quality mobility products that reflects an individual’s personal style and denotes independence in their everyday mobility. Joining forces with Medline will allow us tap into their infrastructure and strong industry relationships to reach a broad audience of users.”

Weighing in at just 10.6 pounds, the Carbon Ultralight is engineered to reflect the functional needs of each user. The product, available in three colors (black, red and white) and three sizes (compact, regular and wide track) blends style with optimal walking and seated comfort. The acclaimed design was inspired by the automotive industry, and the minimalistic style of Scandinavian design.  It folds flat with a single pull, and the light weight makes it easy to lift into the trunk of the car and take it for a spin at the park.

“With the aging population, we’ve had increasing demand for products that account for their young-at-heart mentality,” says Brian Foley, president of Medline’s Equipment & Furnishings division. “What we love about the Carbon Ultralight Rollator is that its sleek, contemporary design doesn’t compromise the quality of the product. This is a game-changer for how we think of mobility aids and the people who use them.”

In addition to design and comfort, the byACRE team behind the Carbon Ultralight rollator has accounted for ease-of-use. Each rollator shipped to the customer comes with an organizer bag and is packaged to use immediately. The consumer can simply unbox, unfold, click and go. There are several accessories that are sold separately, including cane holders, storage bags and backrests, allowing users to customize the products to fit their needs.

The Carbon Ultralight is now available to consumers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through Medline’s broad-reaching network of retail partners. For more information, visit www.medline.com/go/byacre.

About byACRE

byACRE is a leading international designer and producer of stylish mobility products. Founded in Copenhagen, the heart of Scandinavian’s design hub, the byACRE team combined expertise in engineering, design and visual arts for social good, setting out to create the sleekest, top performing rollators in the market. Since 2017, our mindful designs have won some of the world’s most prestigious awards in design and innovation, including the 2019 RedDot Design Award, the 2017 IF Design Award and the Danish Design Award. “by ACRE” is our quality seal. It’s rooted in the words ‘Active’ and ‘Re-Habitare’ – the Latin word for Back to Life. For more information, visit byacre.com.

About Medline

Medline is a healthcare company: a manufacturer, distributor and solutions provider focused on improving the overall operating performance of healthcare. Medline works with both the country’s largest healthcare systems and independent facilities across the continuum of care to provide the clinical and supply chain resources required for long-term financial viability in delivering high quality care. With the size of one of the country’s largest companies and the agility of a family-owned business, Medline is able to invest in its customers for the long-term and rapidly respond with customized solutions. Headquartered in Northfield, Ill., Medline has 27,000+ employees worldwide, a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks and does business in more than 90 countries. Learn more about Medline at www.medline.com.

 

Who is Dr. Gretchen?

Dr. Gretchen Hawley is a Physical Therapist and MS Specialist from New York, USA. She has devoted her life to help people living with MS to take back control and feel strong when the MS shows its teeth. Dr. Gretchen is constantly updating and helping people who struggles with their mobility through her social platforms, with practical  work-outs and research-based education. 

The MSing Link

Dr. Grethchen has founded the MSing Link, an online MS wellness program, where she guides those with MS and other mobility issues to become stronger, improve their walking, increase energy and take back control.

Unboxing the Carbon Ultralight and the Carbon Overland

Staying active is a mantra that both Dr. Gretchen and byACRE advocate. In the video below you can watch Dr. Gretchen unbox the Carbon Ultralight and demonstrate helpful exercises with the rollator.

How does our toughest rollator arrive?
Have a look when Dr. Gretchen unbox the Carbon Overland and shares her first impressions!

How to set the handles to the perfect height

Our rollator come in a quite unique, new design, with the handles turned in the opposite direction compared to traditional rollators. This changes the way you are supposed to hold the rollator, and how you set the handle height.

Physio therapists recommend that one measures the distance from the floor to the wrist to assess the best height for the handles.

In this video, Dr. Gretchen show us how that is done!

Talk with MSing Link member

Gretchen sat down with one of her MSing link members, who use our Carbon Ultralight rollator, and talked about life with a rollator. You can read the interview right here

How does using a rollator make you feel?

More stable and confident.

When did it first occur to you that you needed a rollator?

I never considered a rollator before discovering byACRE, because others I had tried at physical therapy worked so poorly.

What feelings and thoughts did you have about it?

It looked easy to use, it looked light and super well designed… basically, everything I had been looking for in a rollator but had never found until I saw the Carbon Ultralight.

What reactions do you get from others when walking with a rollator?

Because I acquired mine recently, and during the pandemic, I haven’t been around many people while using it. When I have taken it to medical appointments, I like it that others are more patient with my slowness and have given me the appropriate space to maneuver.

What does it enable you to do that you couldn’t otherwise do?

Inside the house it has allowed me to stop wall-surfing. After the pandemic I am hoping it gives me more freedom to go out.

What criteria are important when choosing a rollator? Why?

Being ergonomically correct and enhancing your posture while improving your mobility; being light, and easy for others to move; being visually attractive, not an eyesore.

MSing Link member

Age: 55

Country: USA

Hobbies: Tai Chi and knitting

Rollator user for 2+ months

How to safely put a rollator in the car

Dr. Gretchen wouldn’t be a specialist if she did not know how to cover each part of the daily life, and what struggles one might face. For example, she knows that putting a rollator in a car can be both challenging and nerve racking. Therefore, she has given us these steps to think about while doing it, with a video to show what it means practically!

  1. Stand as close to the car as possible
  2. Put the rollator brakes on
  3. Change your stance so you feet are not in the way of the wheels
  4. Squat down using your legs (not rounding your back) as you grab for the center of the rollator
  5. Lift the rollator up and place in the car without moving your feet (you should feel stable)

To take the rollator OUT of the car, reverse the steps above!

 

Meet Angelika from Germany

We have asked a Carbon Ultralight owner to tell us about her life with a rollator and how she deals with the mobility challenges in her daily life.

“I feel very good with it. Not old or disabled”

– Angelika on how she feels about her Carbon Ultralight rollator.

Walking with confidence

“When I walk with this rollator, I feel confident. I walk with it upright and confidently. I can’t imagine anyone saying: “look at that poor old handicapped woman.” Not at all. I feel good about it. I don’t think of myself as poor, old and sick. I walk with confidence.”

Style matters

“Lots of old people walk around with a rollator, but I’m still a little vain. That’s why I wanted a rollator that wasn’t like the others. Then I came across this rollator, which looked elegant. It’s chic. Doesn’t have all those cables sticking out. A great help for good walks.”

Feeling safe and healthy

“With the help of this rollator I feel much safer… I have also improved my health. I can walk more and more and I become stronger as a result. I am not afraid of falling anymore. I can hold on tight. I can take breaks any time. The walks become longer and longer.”

 

Meet Janneke from the Netherlands

We have asked a Carbon Ultralight owner to tell us about her life with a rollator and how she deals with the mobility challenges in her daily life.

“It just gives me a piece of freedom back”

– Janneke on how the Carbon Ultralight changed her life.

Acceptance

“It took me a long while to understand that the rollator really helped me out, and that is a good thing because now I have my freedom back. I can do the things I love because I’m not resistant anymore. I think the rollator has become a part of my life like riding my bike is.”

Overcoming ignorance

“People always have an idea about it. They don’t think twice before they yell something at you. Some people think I use it to get attention. But that is not true of course. They just don’t know and that’s something you have to accept. When I walk with this modern rollator I get less yelling. Most of the reactions I get now is about how good it looks and how fashionable it is.”

Bad days

“On my bad days I try to think of everything I still can do. I am happy I can go out. Even when I’m not walking, I can sit and see the people I want to see and I can talk to them. I can tell my story and that gives me energy to go on.”

Regaining freedom

“It took me about two months to realize I really needed it and to make it my own choice. When I used it I could do much more things than without using it. I was able to go out with friends again. In a way you can say I became more active because I used the rollator. It just gives me a piece of freedom back.”

Traveling with rollator

 

Meet Uli from Germany

We have asked a Carbon Ultralight owner to tell us about her life with a rollator and how she deals with the mobility challenges in her daily life.

“It was this rollator or no rollator”

– Uli, when she saw the Carbon Ultralight Rollator for the first time

Style matters

“When I walk with Bertha I often get addressed because of how wonderful she looks.”

Independence and freedom

“I am in a good mood when I walk with Bertha. She just “runs” in front of me and when I want to sit down I sit down. I no longer have to look for the next seating option when I am out walking. I have a lot of freedom and independence.”

Staying active

“We have had Bertha with us to Zurich, Los Angeles and a lot of other places. At first we were worries about how she would handle the flight, but we had no reason to worry. She did not even arrive as “bulky luggage” but along with the normal luggage.”

Why Bertha?

“Why did I decide to name her Bertha and why do I call it “her”? Well, when I saw her it was clear that she is a woman. She’s pink! And I am also a woman. Why should I walk around with an ‘objective creature’? I had to make it my own and make it personal.”

Travelling with Bertha

 

The lightest rollator in the world

Key product features

  1. Only 4.8 kg
    Making it the World’s lightest outdoor rollator
  2. Carbon fibre frame
    a lightweight, strong, and shock-absorbing material for a rollator that is easy to transport and lift, and gives you stability and great support.
  3. Ergonomic, reversed handles
    to secure a good posture and stability.
  4. Easy height adjustment
    in 30mm increments by just a click on a botton.
  5. Comes fully assembled
    So you’re ready to use it right away

A companion for strolls, trips or travel

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.”– Hans Christian Andersen (Danish Fairy Tale writer)

Mobility is obviously very near to our hearts at byACRE. It is at the core of modern life, and as such, a part of everyone’s life. But mobility is not just being able to move around in the neighbourhood anymore. We are travelling and exploring more than ever these days, and the mobility design of the future should therefore enable travelling even more.

With the Carbon Ultralight we wanted to make a mobility design that was meant for both the short strolls and the trips around the world. With the lightweight materials, easy folding, and sleek lines, it will easily fit in any car, train, boat or airplane, so you can keep discovering the world around you.

The Carbon Ultralight is a rollator designed for both the short stroll around the neighborhood and for trips around the world. The lightweight materials, sleek lines and the easy folding makes it suitable for transport in cars, trains, boat or airplanes. It is only 250mm wide when folded and will therefore suit even the smallest trunks.

It is inspired by the organic shapes of fast moving animals and the dynamic shapes and lightweight materials used in bicycle design, sportscars and airplanes. Together, these two sources of inspiration formed the dynamic shapes found throughout the Carbon Ultralight. From the frame to forks holding the wheels, and the brake handles. All for a look that is simple, sleek and stylish.

 

User Story: Susan and Rowlie the rollator on adventure in Malaysia

In the beginning of March we sent a Strawberry Red Carbon Ultralight rollator to Susan in the UK. Little did we know about the adventures that lay ahead for this rollator. A few days ago Susan wrote us to tell about her first trip with Rowlie the rollator and her husband John on a cruise around Malaysia. A story so uplifting and nice that we asked for permission to share it here in our journal.

We booked a taxi to the airport and had to pay extra because I had a walking aid. The taxi driver was amazed and said that we should have said what it was, Such a light weight piece of equipment, so easily collapsible. He gave it a thumbs up.

We booked for hold luggage. ‘How heavy?’ asked the check in lady. John held it up with a finger. She was amazed. Never seen one like that before. She smiled and wished us a good holiday.

Our hold luggage had been delivered to our cabin and Rowlie was tucked in very neatly next to our case. Yes! We only had one case for 2 people, including me with my outsize knickers to last for 16 days.

Rowlie made it possible for me to do so many things, in particular the gardens in Singapore and the market in Ho Chi Minh. I hope that we can find the photo of a bloke who lives in Singapore who wants one for his Mum!

It was something else with Rowlie. I was no longer ashamed of limping a bit. I wore a hat and a red scarf and took a red bag. I was proud to be with him. Showing that I was a positive person who wasn’t going to get into old people shopping trolley mode.”

 

March 25, 2019 / Red Dot Design Award

The product no one wants is finally recognized as an object of style and design

Organically shaped carbon fiber and design references to cheetahs and other athletic animals are typically associated with high-involvement mobility products such as bikes and cars. The unique selling points typically featured for a rollator are very different, and include weight, ergonomics, brake function and more. Until now, design has never been a selling point in this product category, leaving people with an appreciation for aesthetics a choice between two evils when their mobility is challenged and mobility aids become a prerequisite to carry on an active and social life.

“When the doctor told my husband that he should use a rollator when walking for improved balance, he lost some of his spirit. He became introverted, stayed at home most of the time and I was starting to worry about him! A friend of ours suggested that he got one of the nice-looking rollators from byACRE, and finally he started to lighten up again”, says Elsebeth from Denmark.

byACRE is a Danish company with a mission to produce anti-stigmatizing mobility aids by combining functionality with aesthetics. Their Carbon Ultralight rollator has just received the honorable Red Dot Design Award thereby cementing that mobility aids are finally recognized as an object of style and design.

When people reach the point in life where it is time to accept that assistive aids are a necessary part of daily life their perception of themselves is challenged. “Mobility aids should match the user’s self-image. A lot of mobility aids express something clinical and institutional, which the users cannot recognize in themselves. This results in the users not wanting to use them”, as stated in the Danish OT magazine in March 2018. Many people take months and even years to accept this change and the consequences are less social and physical activity which can lead to loneliness and deteriorating health.

Winning this award is a big step in our mission to remove the stigma in using mobility aids. Our identity and wish to keep up an image doesn’t fade away when our mobility is challenged. We’ve experienced first hand how design can increase the quality of life of our users and that is truly rewarding in itself”, says CEO of byACRE, Anders Berggreen.

The rollator has been well-received by users worldwide who appreciate how the design of the Carbon Ultralight allows them their independence and active life back. The light weight of the rollator makes it ideal for both small and big adventures and the stylish appearance fits with their self-image.

Read more about the Red Dot Design Award

 

Lightweight rollator gave Kirsten her freedom back

Our users are a huge source of inspiration. Especially when it comes to mobility, ageing and life quality. Our user Kirsten is one of those sources of inspiration. She was one of our very first users in Denmark and we can always count on her to give us feedback and share a couple of good stories.  

“I was just sitting in a radius of 50 metres and couldn’t do anything”

A couple of months ago Kirsten was interviewed by the Danish broadcasting station TV2, when they were doing a small feature about welfare technology and rollators. This week she is yet again in the spotlight in an interview with the Danish Magasine ‘Hendes Verden’. As part of a theme about assistive aids, she shares some wise words about using a rollator. After all this spotlight we figured it was time to share the story about how byACRE met Kirsten – and share some of Kirsten’s wise words.

When byACRE met Kirsten: Post knee surgery and longing for freedom

Kirsten received her first rollator in 2007, when she had to train after a hip surgery. It went great for a while, and the hips were working as they should. She therefore only used the rollator for training purposes. As she put it herself “it wasn’t a rollator made for a stroll along the promenade”. Last year she underwent another surgery. This time it was the knee, and the surgery did not work in Kirsten’s favour. She now needed the rollator for more than just training purposes.

“At one time I was with the day center on a trip to a farm. But all of us with rollators couldn’t walk around, because the underlay consisted of pebbles, and the rollators couldn’t handle it”.

The rollator Kirsten had received from the municipality did not meet her requirements*. She loves to explore and meet new people, and her rollator wasn’t really up for these adventures. She needed something lighter, that did not cause pain in her hands on the longer walks, and she needed something that would fit in her car.

The Red Lightning

“Fortunately, I can figure out what the world has to offer even though I’m 81 years old. So, I googled and found my new rollator

After a search on Google she found byACRE, called us, and paid us a visit. She quickly decided on the Carbon Ultralight in Strawberry Red. Because “Why not red? Let it be red so it can be seen”. Kirsten calls her rollator “The Red Lightning” and have actually said that she enjoys walking with the rollator more than her dog. With her rollator she decides for herself when she wants to walk, but she gets the same attention as she would walking her dog.

“I feel worthy and experience being welcomed into stores in a different way. The other day I was sitting in a restaurant when someone came up and asked med about where my rollator was from”.

Freedom instead of longing

Even though Kirsten loves her rollator, she still dreams about being able to walk without it. But right now the rollator gives her peace of mind knowing that she does not lose her balance. “When you’ve tried falling and hurting yourself seriously, you are not sorry about your rollator. I am so happy for it. It gives med freedom instead of longing”.

Kirsten is only one of many byACRE users around the world, but her story is far from unique. For a lot of people, ageing will often lead to a need for more support while walking, and like Kirsten, when you get to that age, you still want to keep up the life you’re used to. Ageing does not entail a sudden stop in one’s need for adventure and social interaction. And it most certainly does not entail a wish to be portrayed and treated any differently. Because “Age is the new black”.

*Note: In Denmark, citizens who need assistive aids after a surgery, or whose functionality is permanently impaired, as a consequence of disability or chronic illness, is provided with an assistive aid; either from the hospital or the municipality.

 

Expansion of the cooperation between RUSSKA and byACRE

byACRE is a Danish company with the mission to overcome the stigma of reduced human mobility by helping everyone stay active and look great while doing it.

byACRE has been in partnership with RUSSKA for a long time. In close cooperation, the indoor rollator, Scandinavian Butler, has been successfully introduced in the German market.

Recently, the company has also developed one of the lightest rollators in the world, the Carbon Ultralight. This high-end rollator combines quality with an outstanding, sporty design and a weight of less than 5 kg. The design of the Carbon Ultralight symbolizes an active lifestyle and is inspired by sports car and bike design. The lightweight rollator is available in pearl white, strawberry red and black.

byACRE’s Carbon Ultralight rollator was recently launched in Germany by the Norwegian company Topro. Shortly before Christmas 2017, an important change in ownership was announced at Topro. This brought about the opportunity to rethink byACRE’s distribution setup for Germany.

byACRE has now decided to extend the good relationship with RUSSKA. Therefore, RUSSKA will offer the full range of byACRE’s products in the future, in order to reliably supply current and future customers. RUSSKA will offer the complete product portfolio from Monday, 5 February, with delivery of the Carbon Ultralight to retail stores from ultimo February.

 

Danish Design Award 2017

We have proudly received the Danish Design Award for our aesthetic indoor rollator!

Here’s what the press wrote about it.


May 31, 2017 / Danish Design Award

DANISH DESIGN AWARD CELEBRATES TALENTS AND WELFARE DESIGN AT AWARD SHOW IN KOLDING

Round two of the Danish Design Award event took place on Wednesday night in Svane Shipping’s warehouse in Kolding harbour, where the winners of four new award categories and two special awards were announced. Among them are the game-changing Open Embassy, the aesthetic-functional walking frame Scandinavian Indoor, the expansive car-sharing concept GoMore and the partnership-building VenligBolig, which promotes the integration of refugee families. Awards also went to human-centred design in the ‘Young Talent’ category and to the audience favourite RAM’N in the ‘People’s Choice’ category.

It is a great pleasure to present the winners of the Danish Design Award 2017 in cooperation with this year’s partner municipality, Kolding, and D2i. The award-winners exemplify the high degree of innovation and value in the solutions created by designers and companies throughout the country. The winning solutions have a unique user focus that springs from Denmark’s strong design DNA and a social and environmental awareness that reflects our welfare society. Not least the young talents show empathic design solutions that generate value, says Henrik Weiglin, CEO of Denmark’s largest, independent design interest and industry organization, Design denmark (Dd).

The categories of the Danish Design Award reflect the full palette of design making a difference for individuals, companies and society. The award also demonstrates that design is the tool that makes companies competitive and enables them to develop new and superior solutions driven by empathy with users and clients. We consider it a shared task for public and private actors to promote the innovation that design generates throughout the country. That is why the broad cooperation we are witnessing tonight is so important – and such a pleasure to see, says Christian Bason, CEO of the Danish Design Centre.

The selection of finalists and award-winners reflects the broad scope of Danish design. It also serves as an excellent illustration that Danish business and industry and the public sector have embraced design as a tool, not only for creating attractive solutions but also for managing complex challenges on the users’ terms. As co-host of this year’s award show in Kolding, we are delighted to see the close collaboration of the Danish design field that makes it possible to celebrate and stage big events like the Danish Design Award across the country, says Thit Juul Madsen, CEO of D2i…

…In the Improved Welfare category, the winner is Scandinavian Indoor – a series of walking frames adapted to both indoor and outdoor use. For many people, the use of a walking frame is associated with a loss of personal dignity and identity in addition to the impact on the intimate domestic sphere when welfare technology is installed in the home. Scandinavian Indoor takes up this challenge with its functional design and harmonious expression, which puts the person centre stage and blends seamlessly into the home without introducing an institutional feel…

Read the full article here: www.danishdesignaward.com

 

Our Favourite Mobility Innovations of 2016

Now that we’ve had a few days to recover from hectic, food-and-family filled holiday schedules, it’s finally time to take a deep breath and look back at 2016. For us, that means thinking about the changes that took place in the field of mobility: the improvements, innovations and ideas that worked towards improving mobility for all kinds of people. Overall, 2016 saw a rapid transformation in the speed of mobility innovations: from smarter cars to GPS footwear, mobility products across many markets are becoming better, cheaper and more accessible. Thanks to the speed of development, more and more people can take advantage of game-changing mobility technology. Although there were many mobility innovations to pick from, here our top 6 from 2016.

1. Audi Fit Driver System

According to Audi, the Audi Fit Driver System’s goal is to “provide the optimal driving experience, custom-tailored to the current condition of the driver.” Sounds pretty generic—but in fact, Audi have come up with a unique solution that puts health and wellbeing first in a fluid, integrated way. A wearable watch tracks your vital parameters, such as heart rate, tension, tiredness level, and transmits that information to the car. In response, the car adjusts its functionality to best accommodate the driver’s current condition—whether that means reducing stress levels or improving concentration. Although meant for people of all ages, the Audi Fit Driver particularly holds positive implications for people with unstable mobility issues: no matter what problems you’re suffering from, the Fit Driver will respond to your body, so you can get you where you need to go.

So far, the Audi Fit Driver is only available in Germany—but considering the positive response Audi has gotten for it, we’ll probably be seeing this car in other countries soon.

2. Arctic Grip Footwear Technology

For most of us, stumbling over an icy sidewalk after a snow day is pretty annoying—but for people with mobility issues, a slip and fall can have serious health implications. That’s why Vibram’s Arctic Grip Footwear Technology is such a necessary innovation, especially for those of us who live in snowier areas: it makes walking on ice feel exactly like taking a walk on a sunny day. The shoes feature lugs with sole technology that’s grippy on ice as well as thermochromatic lugs, which sense when temperatures drop and change color to warn their wearers. It’s the most advanced grip technology on a walking shoe out there—and luckily, it’s already available for purchase.

3. The Genworth R70i Aging Experience

2016 saw the rise of virtual reality, with out-of-body experiences being used for everything from gaming to relationship building. However, it was also used specifically to generate understanding around mobility needs: The Genworth R70i Aging Experience makes you feel what it’ll be like to move around in the world when you’re a senior. By putting you in a sensory suit, the GRAE simulates what it’ll be like to walk, see, hear and speak when you’re aging and possible suffering from health issues, like blurred vision or muted hearing. By giving people an ‘aging experience’, Genworth aims to realistically prepare them for what’s to come in their futures—so they can start making smart decisions about their mobility earlier on in life.

4. Quell

When it comes to treating chronic pain, people generally think of three options: over-the-counter medicine, physiotherapy or even surgery. However, what if there was a solution that was less costly or life-changing, easy to use and free of side effects? Enter Quell—a new wearable from of pain relief that primarily treats back pain, arthritic pain, nerve pain and leg and foot pain. A band that you wear on your upper calf, Quell disrupts your body’s natural pain relief response by blocking the pain signals in your body through stimulation of sensory nerves. You can also download the app, which lets you monitor changes in your stress levels, sleep patterns etc. since using Quell—but even without the app, 81% of users report feeling pain significant pain reduction. Now that’s effective!

5. Al-Pro Framing Hammer

Few things are more frustrating than failing at hammering something into the wall. Whether the nails you’re using are wrong, the wall is too tough or the hammer is too heavy for you to use properly, it can be infuriating—and potentially impossible to master for those with arthritis or other physical issues affecting their upper body strength and grip. Luckily, the construction equipment company Estwing decided to solve this setback with their new AL-Pro Hammer. Made from forged aircraft aluminum alloy – a material much lighter than the regular Titanium – it’s easy for you to handle, but send a vibration dampening shot to nail heads so max force hits them every time. Plus, there’s a magnetic nail starter in the head to make aiming accurately a piece of cake. So whether you’re suffering from chronic hand pain or have failed at hanging up art on your walls one too many times, Estwing has finally made the solution for you.

6. ReSound Hearing Aids

When you think of hearing aids, a few stereotypes probably come to mind. Clunky, definitely; ineffective, perhaps; old-fashioned. However, ReSound’s latest hearing aids, LINX2, break those stereotypes with impressive elegance: the company’s new hearing aids are tiny, sleek, and integrated with the tech elements of your life. The aids themselves are made of ultra-durable technology that’s also water and dust resistant, but most excitingly, they connect to your gadgets. You can hook up your iphone or ipad to the hearing aids—so taking a phone call, listening to music and hearing the world when you’re out on a walk becomes a fluid experience for those with hearing difficulties. Best part: it’s all controlled by a smartwatch on your wrist which lets you control various elements, such as how much you can focus on someone talking, or how much wind you hear on a cold day at the beach. For hearing aids that actually aid all parts of your life, look no further.

 

Why Age is the New Black

byACRE has a lot to say about senior lifestyle and what we can do to enhance it—and no phrase captures our mindset better than “Age is the New Black”. It’s the motto that drives everything we do and communicates our core message: aging is a new and exciting transition of life, and it’s about time brands and products started to reflect that in their communications and design.

We aren’t saying this out of the blue. Recent trends have shown us that age really is the new black—and it’s pretty obvious why. For one, we’re all living longer: currently, there are way more boomers than millennials or generation x’ers—and since birth rates are falling in Europe and North America, there’ll be even more of them over the next decade compared to other generations. That means that brands and people are working towards making seniors’ lives better—especially by addressing mobility. Whether people are finding ways to improve senior mobility or addressing the barriers around it, brands and audiences are talking about seniors moving. How does this look on an everyday scale? For one, we’re seeing more considered and appealing products made with aging folks in mind—things that look fun and useful enough to reflect By ACRE’s mentality of empowering, celebrating and valuing seniors. More importantly, we’re seeing a shift in how aging people are portrayed by industries, especially in fashion.

Anita Kalero by Stefan Heinrichs for Kinfolk

There’s an inherent beauty in age. After all, you simply can’t match the grace of a woman with lines of experience on her face, or the body language of a man that communicates wisdom and confidence acquired over decades. The fashion industry has picked up on this knowledge, too, with a momentum around appreciating age and mobility. Instead of resorting to using cookie-cutter, youthful models in their campaigns, top fashion brands like Celine are turning their focus towards older people with stories to tell—like Joan Didion, Dame Helen Mirren or Charlotte Rampling. Even Hollywood has spent the past few years producing Blockbuster hits like Red, with a cast entirely made of boomers, and we’ve seen senior citizens take over the internet with things like The Betty White phenomenon. Brands from skincare to cars are hip to the trend too, considering that the most successful ad of the past few years was Volkswagen’s Epic Split starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yet it’s not just brands talking about it, either. The media industry has actively started addressing the change, too: everyone from FastCompany to Kinfolk to Elle Magazine is either writing about the sudden rise of the traditionally ‘old’, or helping perpetuate the trend themselves.

byACRE is among the variety of companies working on changing how we portray people society tends to consider ‘old’. Now, those people are celebrated as more culturally-relevant and powerful than they’ve been in decades. This message trickled down to the media, then to internet culture—and finally, to the mentality and mind of the average person. By recognizing the global influence of seniors and just how important it is to give those people the mobility tools they need to keep on living life to the fullest, brands and people came together to align with byACRE’s values and changed how society looks at aging for the better.

So what do we think about it all? Well, as we said before: Age is the New Black. Thanks to recent trends, this belief is spreading further and further. There’s no denying it anymore. Aging is full of opportunity—and we’re glad that other people and brands are seeing that, too.

 

How to Help People Fight Loneliness

If we think about common causes of mortality, a few things come to mind. Obesity, definitely; cancer; heart disease; guns and wars. However, you probably don’t immediately put loneliness on that list—but you should. According to experts – most recently, at Brigham Young University – loneliness is an epidemic that could potentially be as risky as obesity or substance abuse. Millennials in particular are dubbed “The Loneliness Generation”, but loneliness could affect anyone—including seniors. According to recent studies, 43 percent of seniors reporting feeling lonely on a daily basis.

A recent 2020 survey made by the community Sixty+Me indicates that the number might be even higher – especially in light of the covid19 pandemic, which has led people to become more isolated. Among Sixty+Me’s survey participants and entire 87% reports that they sometimes or often feel lonely. When they did the same survey in 2019 “only” 75% reported that they felt lonely.

One of the primary reasons for feeling lonely among the Sixty+Me community is the lack of a spouse/partner along with living alone, not having many friends and not having contact with family members.

(more…)

 

Our Top 8 Must-Have Apps for Seniors

These days, there’s an app for pretty much anything. Wanna find out what that cool-looking plant you passed on your walk in the park is? There’s an app for that. Wanna see what kind of meal you can make with the random stuff you have left in your fridge? There’s an app for that, too. According to statistics, over 1000 apps get released through the App Store each day, crossing ranges of interests and demographics—which means really, really useful apps specifically for seniors are out there more than ever.

Apps targeting seniors generally focus on improving their health and alleviating symptoms of illnesses—but it’s not all sadness and sickness in the app world, either. There are apps for catching up on what’s going on in the world, chatting with your granddaughter, getting out and about in your community—and all are senior-specific. To make it a bit easier for you to navigate the big, ever-expansive world of apps out there, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 8. Enjoy.

If you’ve got an avid audiobook fan in your family, this app will be a game changer for them. With over 180, 000 audiobooks of stories, novels, essays, radio shows and podcasts to listen to, the possibilities are literally endless—all at the decent price of $14.95 US per month, if you want to have unlimited access to audiobooks. Otherwise, you can get it for free, but you’ll have to pay per audiobook you download.

Bonus: the app also allows you to control its brightness and set timers on your audiobooks. So if you feel like falling asleep to a fascinating story or timing your audiobook for your walk to the grocery store, you can do that with the push of a button thanks to Audible.

Image via Lumosity

Lumosity is your key to keeping your brain perked and alert. An app with a simple-to-use and minimal interface, it creates customized brain-stimulating programs based on a quick survey defining your habits you submit upon signing up. The cognitive games, focusing on patterns and shapes, are designed by Lumosity’s in-house scientists and teams of researchers—so they’re made to stimulate your brain in ways with long-term benefits. Although Lumosity got in a bit of trouble earlier this year by overstating the benefits their app provides users, simple problem-solving apps are proven to strengthen your brain—as long as you use them on a daily basis.

Image via WIRED

Words With Friends is basically like Scrabble—but the interface is much more fun and colourful, and you have much more flexibility with how you play. You can play by yourself, or get your family members involved in ongoing games; you can participate in weekly challenges the app designs for you; you can switch languages; and you can even be paired with a stranger around you who plays at the same level as you do. So for all those wordsmiths out there – or even those who want to feel closer to their family and friends abroad – this handy little game will do the trick.

Fade: Fall Detector

Screenshot via YouTube

Everyone falls every once in awhile. It’s no biggie—depending on the person, that is. For many seniors, even a simple fall can lead to an array of icky health problems and worrisome aftereffects. However, if someone falls and gets help as soon as possible, it makes the outcome of the tumble a whole lot better—which is where Fade: Fall Detector comes in. An app built for Android, it detects your movement throughout your day; if it senses that you fall, it will contact the relative you identified as your emergency contact and send them your GPS information and time of fall. It’s simple, it’s effective—and a great way to make an accident a lot less stressful.

You know those cute, romantic, tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants? All dimly lit and mysterious, with a lone candle illuminating the handwritten menu your waiter gives you? Oh, those places are lovely—but they sure aren’t that easy to actually read the menu in. That’s where EyeReader comes in: it’s an app that acts as a magnifying glass, using the LED light of the phone to at once illuminate and magnify whatever’s in front of you. You can zoom to your preference with your fingers on the screen and can even simply take photos by tapping your screen twice and clicking ‘save’. The concept is simple, alright—but a lifesaver in everyday situations for people whose eyes don’t work perfectly, especially in dark situations. It also links with your Apple Watch if you have one, so you can read whatever you need on your wrist if you prefer it.

Image via TechNews World

This app designed for iPads is the closest you can get to having a physiotherapist beside you at all times. Created by an American physiotherapist, it aims to help people avoid or identify motion injuries—and also functions as something physiotherapists can give their patients to let them take in-office learnings to their homes. Motion Doctor uses a combination of video and text to describe routines for strengthening and stretching your body while giving you the basic rationale behind each exercise as well as an overview of human anatomy. The app contains over 60 videos, and they come pre-downloaded on the app—so you don’t need an internet connection to see them. On top of that, the videos are sorted by activity, sport and profession and let you customize your routines; you can get really nitty gritty with this, if you feel like it. At $15 USD, this app is pricy—but considering how much information and help it packs in, we feel it’s worth a download.

Image via Pillboxie

For those of us who need to take a cocktail of pills on a daily basis, keeping track of it all can be a daunting task—which is why Pillboxie is such a simple yet necessary tool. Pillboxie is an app that lets you visually manage your meds: to schedule a reminder, you drop a render of a pill into a pillbox. Then, the app will send out reminders based on the information you put in—even if you’re sleeping or have your device on airplane mode. As you take your meds, you can check them off one by one, plus customize how it all looks with a range of shapes and colours. You don’t need wifi for this app, either—making Pillboxie a pretty much foolproof way of remembering to take your pills, no matter how many you have to. Plus, it’s designed and developed by a nurse—so you know it’s legit.

Image via Skype

Out of all the communication apps out there, Skype remains the best one. With a simple and easy to understand interface and a lot less lag time than other apps, Skype lets you take your friends and family with you wherever you go. Plus, you can share photos or links while in conversation with the simple tap of a button—and can always call someone’s landline if you prefer. Finally, Skype lets you fluidly switch from one-on-one conversation to a group chat thanks to an easy group conversation extension you can download alongside the app. Despite the many competitors out there, Skype is still leading the pack.

 

Our Top 8 Design Objects Changing Seniors’ Lives

When you think of products designed for seniors, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think of things that are grey, hospital-like and clunky—depressing stuff with seemingly minimal aesthetic consideration. That’s because product design for seniors had a bad rep for many years: up until recently, it was hard to learn about products made for seniors that didn’t fit under that cold and clammy aesthetic. Thankfully, the past few years have seen a boom in startups focusing on product innovation collide with a cultural interest in breaking the stereotypes around aging and what it means to be ‘old’. As a result, clunky and cold objects for seniors are becoming a thing of the past—making room for objects and tools that are fun, easy to use, aesthetically appealing and smartly designed.

To give you a quick overview of the range of innovative designs for seniors that are out there, we’ve compiled a list of our Top 8.

Exercising in water sounds great and all—but it can get a bit tiring, even for the fittest of folks. Luckily, innovation house IDEO’s Munich office came up with a solution called Sväv. Upon first glance, it’s a stylish and timeless swimsuit—but look closer, and it’s a powerhouse of support for all shapes and sizes. Sväv has pneumatic features fluidly integrated into the design: as you swim, they fill with air—so no matter what you’re doing in the water, you get lightness, lift and fashion points, too.

For people with dementia, appetite loss and dramatic weight loss are an unfortunate reality—and one that makes the disease much harder to keep under control. However, Ode is here to the rescue: it’s a subtle tool you can put in your home to regularly release appetite-stimulating fragrances—and according to Ode, it’s quite effective. Upon testing the product’s impact on 50 people living with dementia, their team found that 50% of the participants gained weight of an average of 2 kg over eleven weeks. It’s simple to install, too: simply plug it into an outlet and set the timer to release fragrances for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Image via WIRED

Much like us, the company behind Sabi Space was sick and tired of seeing products designed for seniors that screamed ‘old’ and ‘boring’. Enter Sabi Space: a collection of 13 bathroom accessories that primarily cater to aging people, yet could just as easily make their way into the homes of trendy millennials. The whole collection is based around pegs which you can mix and match for your comfort and visual taste: whether you want to install one of the Sabi Space towel racks, aluminum bathroom bars or mirrors, these pegs will let you do so without screws and without a struggle. The packaging has a true-to-size render of the product plus straightforward installation instructions, so you don’t have to give yourself a headache figuring out how to make these things work. Just don’t be surprised if your kids or grandkids want the same set in their bathrooms after seeing yours. It’s that stylish.

Image via ebay

The best thing about this product is you don’t have to have sore hands or muscles to relate to the problem it solves: almost everybody knows what it’s like to walk out of the grocery store after a particularly large shop, only to have to suffer through your walk home as you try to ignore the pain and discomfort caused by heavy grocery bags digging into your hands. The OneTrip Grocery Holder eliminates that problem for good: it’s basically a minimalistic, colourful hook you strap your grocery bags into. You can pick from a range of colours—and since they sell at $2.50 USD a pop, you can stock up on these lifesavers.

On first glance, this watch is, well, a functional-looking and unfussy watch. However, it holds far more power than that: Minneapolis-based startup Reemo developed it with seniors and their everyday needs in mind. So, this watch can let you control your lighting, thermostat or locks; receive reminders and alerts; contact your friends and family with a quick tap; and ask for help or assistance through a simple button whenever you need it. Now, we’re just waiting ‘til this thing hits the market!

Image via IDEO

No, we’re not talking about the big, wide-eyed bird kind of owl. OWL is an acronym for On the Wisdom of Life—which accurately represents the point of IDEO’s ‘elegant thought time capsule’. It’s basically a minimal and stylish shelf that would compliment any apartment—but it holds 80 glass tubes meant to represent 80 years of your life. Each year, you write down a reflection on the past year and a hope for the coming year and put it one of the vessels. The tubes that live at the top symbolize the wisdom you’ve earned, while the ones at the bottom symbolize potential for the future.

Image via IDEO

Another IDEO marvel – this time for the Shanghai office – Pit Stop Posts is a line of street furniture designed to help seniors and those who are slower in pace find a place to rest in busy urban areas. They look like minimal walking sticks placed strategically on the street—but really, they’re effective resting posts that can help you hang your shopping bags, lean on something sturdy or help you navigate public transportation.

Image via DesignBoom

You know that friend you have who just ‘gets’ you? Well, that’s what Omhu is to us. The NYC-based company’s “Aids for Daily Living” collection of objects is inspired by Scandinavian design, the fun yet stylish aesthetic of bicycles and a mentality very much like ours: just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to lose out on your personality. In particular, their ‘Omhu’ cane is a take on the traditional cane that turns it into a modern-looking and useful accessory. These canes are recyclable, designed with easy-to-grip handles, made of lightweight aluminum—and keep you lookin’ like the stylish kid on the block. Oh, and Omhu means ‘with great care’ in Danish—so yeah, this company’s pretty close to us at heart!

 

How Fashion Brands Are Redefining ‘Old’

Joan Didion for Celine

Over the past few years, older women have continued to pop up on the fashion world’s radar. We’ve seen French fashion house Celine cast American writing legend Joan Didion as the face of their campaign; Dame Helen Mirren as a primary ambassador for L’Oreal; Joni Mitchell as the driving force of Saint Laurent; Charlotte Rampling as the face of Nars. This trend of ditching blank-faced 20-somethings for women with stories and wisdom continues to be growing—and it’s not only fashion brands at the helm. On social media, the blog Advanced Style – featuring street-style photos of older men and women in New York with some sort of chutzpah about them – has over 300,000 views per month, its popularity spurring the much-loved documentary Advanced Style. Instagram accounts like Fashion Grandpas (stylish older men) and Oldushka (Russian seniors in Moscow) have thousands and thousands of followers. Cult style magazines like The Gentlewoman are putting older women on the cover, and magazine editors like Justine Picardie from Harper’s Bazaar happily admit that most of the stories they feature are about older people, not younger.

Of course, a lot of this comes back down to cold, hard finances. Fashion brands are well aware that people over 60 make up the fastest growing group of consumers in many countries: in the UK, example, 79% of disposable wealth in the UK is in the hands of people over 50. It makes sense that brands want to leverage that knowledge by showing their consumers people they’re more likely to relate to over yet another fresh-faced young thing. Even so, this financial motivation does lead to a positive outcome: it reflects and continues to impact a growing cultural shift around physical and lifestyle ideals. As The Observer writes, millennials as well as other generations want more than beautiful people to look at: they want people whose identities reflect stories, wisdom and confidence—and in many cases, the natural representations of those values are people who have lived longer lives and accumulated more knowledge on the way. So although Celine casting Joan Didion does exploit the shock value of portraying age in a traditionally youth-obsessed culture to be ‘edgy’, it also uses Didion’s personal history and reputation to equate brains and experience with beauty and desirability.

The Oldushka Project

Admittedly, there is something fishy about the rapidness of it all. It’s not as if we’ve seen a slow increase in the use of older men and women as the driving forces of brand campaigns: the majority of it happened in the last four years, seemingly one brand after the other. Although this makes it tempting to look at the sudden presence of older women in fashion and media as a vapid trend using shock value to sell things, it may also simply be a natural evolution of things. As Justine Picardie, EIC of Harper’s Bazaar, says, “the pendulum does sometimes swing – You look at the 1950s when they liked that very sophisticated, elegant, grown-up looking woman. And then there was the youth-quake of the 60s, when youth was fetishised. One shouldn’t over-simplify and say this is the first time we’ve ever had an industry where older women have been remarked upon … maybe we’re just seeing a natural shift.”

If we’re to side with Picardie on this one, it’s useful to look at the growing presence of older women in fashion in combination with other phenomenons. An accessible discussion around feminism is growing; the fashion industry is being forced to address and regulating unhealthy body standards; women are gaining more recognition and power to take over key global roles (if Hillary Clinton becomes president, for example, three of the world’s most influential countries will be run by women). All of this means that both younger and older women are cluing in to new standards of empowerment for themselves—a part of which is feeling confident, no matter what age you’re at. As 53 year old Rosie Arnold, deputy ECD at Advertising Agency BBH London, says, “What most people have failed to realise is it’s a fascinating time of our lives as a woman…. You are more solvent, more confident, and have – please God – your health. I’m aware that the kids have left home, and I’ve got money, I’ve got confidence…. I’ve actually got more time on my hands, or more money, and there isn’t a brand out there saying ‘this is cool’ or ‘you can have this’.”

Joni Mitchell for Yves Saint Laurent

So although the fashion world’s sudden fascination with older women is far from perfect – not everyone can be a cultural figure like Joan Didion, or have aged as gracefully as Dame Helen Mirren – we prefer to see it for its positives over its negatives. By continuously elevating the roles of older women in their campaigns, these brands are also elevating the roles of older women in overall culture. Every time a brand or magazine features an older women as its face or cover, the shock value of ‘age’ pushing ‘youth’ to the side slowly disappears. Instead, it’s slowly but surely replaced by a genuine comfort with seeing older women in roles of cultural importance—a comfort that trickles down to consumers of all genders and ages. So, as we like to say: Age is the New Black. Get with it.