CULTURE

Design for everybody and for every body

Think of a chair with a little extra room for a pair of tired feet; a beauty and body kit designed to offer maximum power with minimal strain or even a round pen with a gentle grip for those suffering from rheumatism. The idea of design as a liberating force is currently making a strong case at the War Museum in Athens, where two colorful, practical and often amusing exhibitions from Sweden are currently on display. «Design for Every Body,» and «Fun for Challenged Kids,» coincide with the Athens Paralympics, offering a fresh look at the importance and relevance of contemporary design in today’s society. Design for every body Produced by the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design in collaboration with the Swedish Institute, «Design for Every Body» was unveiled for the first time during the Sydney Paralympics in 2000. Since then, it has traveled to a number of cities around the world. The idea behind the exhibition is that, at one point or another, we are all prone to experiencing some kind of physical difficulty or disability. The young have to find their way in a world of adults, for instance, while the elderly need to maintain a certain level of independence. This is why designers come up with caring solutions, intelligent tricks and alternative means for facilitating tasks. Showcased at the War Museum is a variety of pieces for all ages and situations: the «Child Dish and Spoon,» designed by Ergonomidesign, offers a cloverleaf-shaped dish which makes it easy to push the food onto the spoon; Staffan Preutz’s eyeglasses – designed for Polaris Optic – have no earpiece and are currently the sole glasses to have been granted a patent worldwide; there’s also the Boblbee Packpack, designed by Jonas Blanking for Global Act. The latter is an urban backpack with a hard shell, well-suited for transporting computers or bottles, for instance. And what about the Solar Mower solar-powered lawnmower? Designed by Gunnar Leijonberg for Husqvarna, this a silent, self-propelled lawnmower which works on solar energy, complete with an alarm device. Also part of the show is a bright-yellow fabric designed by Saldo: A printed fabric in Braille, it describes the sensation and feeling of yellow; the «Nursing Top Boob,» designed by Mia Seipel, is part of a garment collection of stylish pieces for nursing mothers, and the Microny Pacemaker is known as the world’s smallest pacemaker device. Challenged kids Produced by the Swedish Handicap Institute, «Fun for Challenged Kids,» is an interactive show featuring several tools for rendering daily life – at school, in sport, during leisure time – a little bit easier and far more exciting. At the exhibition, the organizers suggest various new ideas: having fun at the computer, teddy bears in wheelchairs, transforming oneself at the Show Bis stand as well as a series of equipment for outdoor activities. At the same time, the Swedish Institute for Special Needs Education proposes the Pictogram method, an established learning and communication program active in almost all Swedish schools. The idea, originally a Canadian one, promotes a method whereby a system of 1,119 black and white symbols may replace written words. The institute has produced a Pictogram CD in 13 languages – following the program’s presentation in Athens, a Greek Pictogram version could soon be in the works. «Design for Every Body,» and «Fun for Challenged Kids» at the War Museum, Vas. Sofias & 2 Rizari. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both exhibitions run to October 10.