Tilt Assist Chair
A dining chair for the elderly and mobility impaired to easily transport in and out of.
How can I design a practical and beautiful chair for the elderly and mobile impaired?
I was interested in designing for people with progressive motor issues, specifically Parkinson's disease. Old age and motor disabilities can cause tremors, stiffness and a loss of balance, which makes sitting down and getting up difficult. I wanted to design a chair that would ease the action of transporting out of chairs. I felt that most of the medical chairs that were highly tailored to do this felt cold and sterile and not friendly for the home. I wanted to design a chair for the home that was functional, yet still beautiful, discrete, and would age with the user.
By understanding their needs, and applying it to a design for everyone.
Early in my research, I discovered universal design. Universal design is a principle to make designs be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability or other factors. It is equitable, easy, intuitive, simple and accessible for everyone. I applied this principle and my research into the needs for people with motor disabilities, to design a sturdy and cozy dining chair that would tilt forward to help the user get up.
Some useful resources I used were the Parkinson's Foundation and the Yorkshire Care Equipment Guide to Specialist Seating.
The tilt assist chair can ship flat pack in under a 3'x2'x1' cubic space, and can be transported and assembled with just a screw driver.
I was inspired by other handles, bars, and medical bathroom chairs. Unlike the cold and sterile medical chairs, it was important for me for the chair to feel warm, homey, and timeless.
Next, I quickly explored concepts that would aid the user to get up by utilizing springs, wheels, a tilting motion, etc. I made sure to keep some important features like high armrests to grip onto, skids and kick bars for sliding, a high straight back for posture, and a firm shallow seat to make it easier to get up from.
I quickly built mockups to test my concept for a chair that would tilt forward to help the user get up. User testing gave me important information about ergonomics, dimensions, proportions, angles, and ease of use.
The design was further iterated and finalized in Rhino3D. Measurements were taken from other chairs and my mock ups, and a small scale model was 3D printed. The seat and back rest are also modeled to fit curve of the body and were CNCed.
Hard maple was chosen for its density and hardness, providing for a heavy and sturdy chair for elderly and the mobility impaired to remain stable in. It is finished with poly-acrylic for durability and danish oil for the seat and backrest for it's warm look and homey feeling.
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