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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

 

MS Stories: Tricia

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.
 

MS Stories: Robert

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.
 

MS Stories: Nora

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.
 

MS Stories: Tara

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!
 

MS Stories: Michael

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.
 

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!

 

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.

 

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.”

Universal Design Targets Products for All Ages – Robert Grace – Plastics Engineering 2021.

 

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.

 

Dr. Gretchen and MSing Link member discuss the Carbon Ultralight rollator and life with mobility issues.

Dr. Gretchen Hawley has devoted her life to help people living with MS to take back control and feel strong when the MS shows its teeth. In this feature, she unboxes a Carbon Ultralight rollator and speaks to a new rollator-user about this lightweight product and the life with mobility challenges.

”It looked easy to use, it looked light and super well designed… basically, everything I had been looking for in a rollator…”

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

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.

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 full interview right here

MSing Link member

Age: 55

Country: USA

Hobbies: Tai Chi and knitting

Rollator user for 2+ months

How often do you use a rollator?

Walking exercises and ordinary walking in the house. Have used it a couple of times outside of the house, but have not been out much during the pandemic.

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.

Were you hesitant to start using it?

Not after I saw the video online of you unboxing it.

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.

How has the disease/mobility issue affected your life?

In every miserable way possible.

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.

What’s the best piece of advice you would offer to a new user?

I really like having one on each floor of our house, keeping them at the foot and top of the stairs, so that I can move seamlessly from one Carbon Ultralight to the other.

 

Rollator talks: Angelika

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.”

 

Rollator Talks: Uli

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

 

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

 

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.