May 29, 2024


Functional and beautiful mobility products for aging in place

Vancouver-based Capella Design creates stylish mobility products for at home

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Turning reflections into actions

In March 2022, amid the global slowdown, Kaly Ryan launched Vancouver-based Capella Design. Ryan is an industrial designer and previously co-founded design company, Willow & Stump.

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Capella is the result of Ryan taking the time to reflect on what she really wanted to do with her design and fabrication talents, and her thoughts travelled back to the effort her parents went to — in the 80s and 90s — to modify her grandfather’s house so he could stay there as long as possible. He stayed in his own home until he was 95 years old.

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It was difficult then, and it’s difficult now to find functional products that assist people with mobility needs at home that also look good, modern and aesthetically pleasing.

A lot of mobility products, though functional, are downright depressing to look at, and people don’t really want them in their homes, says Ryan.

Founder of Capella Design Kaly Ryan.
Founder of Capella Design Kaly Ryan. Photo by Capella Design

Ryan also thought about her mother, who is now in her 70s and wants to stay in her own home as long as possible.

Ryan’s mum is part of a small group of people (around 10 per cent, if you go by a recent Forbes article — referencing the United States population) preparing to age in their homes. What’s interesting, says Ryan, is a recent survey by the Canadian Medical Association and National Institute on Ageing found that “96 per cent of Canadians want to age at home and live independently for as long as possible.”

“So there’s this huge gap between people who want it and are ready,” she says.

Before launching Capella Design, Ryan had some experience designing a health-related product. At Willow & Stump, she helped design its Perk Lamp, which was created to help people with seasonal affective disorder.

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Shower seat, not bench

It took Ryan two years to create Capella’s Lotic Shower Seat. She researched shower chairs and shower benches and was driven by a desire to redesign this often unattractive product.

“Realistically, you and I might need a shower stool tomorrow if we tripped and hurt ourselves. It doesn’t hurt to have these kinds of mobility products at home, but people don’t want to put them in their homes because they’re really ugly. They don’t always make you feel good about yourself,” she says.

Capella’s shower seat is made from a “solid surface” called Himacs, a stone-like material that looks and feels like stone but is non-porous.

Lotic shower seat by Capella Design can be used in and out of the shower.
Lotic shower seat by Capella Design can be used in and out of the shower. Photo by Capella Design

The stool’s slats are made from a composite decking material that is made from recycled plastic, produced by a “great Canadian company called NewTechWood,” says Ryan. “Essentially, you’re sitting on pop bottles that look and feel like wood.”

With mobility design, there is a big difference between following code and considering how a person is actually going to use a space — like a washroom, Ryan explains. Some hotel rooms have showers with bench seats that meet code, but you can’t actually reach the shower controls while sitting on the bench.

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“This is one of the reasons we created a stool instead of a bench.”

Lotic shower seat by Capella Design.
Lotic shower seat by Capella Design. Photo by Capella Design

Design is moving in a mobility-friendly direction

Walk-in showers, with no lip, are Ryan’s favourite trend because they’re easier for people to access, she says.

Contrasting colours is something people don’t often consider, but if you have an entirely white or grey bathroom, it can be challenging for people with vision issues to differentiate the floor from the wall.

“Even for me, if I take off my glasses, I can’t see anything in the shower.”

Capella has prototyped a good-looking side table with an adjustable tray, called Corbel. This design has been selected as a WL (Western Living) Design 25 finalist.

“It’s an adjustable side table that sits beside your bed or couch and adjusts up and down and swings in — like a TV tray but modernized,” says Ryan. You can use it to rest your plate, a cup of coffee, or an iPad if you’re FaceTiming someone or your book. “Winning a design-related award for accessible furniture is significant because it solidifies that these products can be seen as beautiful, functional furniture instead of things that are stuck in the mobility store that no one wants to visit.”

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Capella is also prototyping a grab-bar picture frame and a more “stable mug option” for people with hand mobility issues.

This mug has a larger handle, more stable base and is made from a light material, so it’s easy to hold,” says Ryan. For a mug, the design is quite elevated, she adds. Which, in design speak, means it looks good. She had ceramicist Grace Lee of Eikcam Ceramics prototype it for her.

“I’m really excited to get it into the hands of people who would use it to get it tested,” says Ryan.

Nothing about us without us

Nailing good design for people with mobility restrictions requires you to put the people you’re designing these products for at the centre of what you’re doing, says Ryan.

She says she isn’t an expert in mobility design; she’s an expert in listening to people and being able to respond.

“It’s all about making sure people who experience disability are central in creating solutions.”

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5 Essential Home Style and design Thoughts for Aging in Put

Lots of men and women want to keep on to enjoy their possess household as they get older. This is a time when empty nesters can repurpose kids' rooms and retrofit them for hobbies, guests, and grandkids. Accessibility, mobility, and comfort and ease are all best priorities, though renovations that account for these could not all in good shape inside of your spending budget or the structure constraints of your house. To make the most of impartial living, inside design specialists counsel focusing on five vital elements to make your permanently residence.

Anthony Masterson

1. Rethink Stairs

A solitary-flooring residence could not seem stately, but it is a smart option for people organizing to age in location. If you happen to be acquiring a house, think about a ranch-model house that does not have exterior stairs from the sidewalk or driveway.

If you have a multi-level house, you will want to deal with stairs. Install a chair elevate or consider an elevator. With new technological innovation, putting in an elevator does not have to spell an comprehensive renovation. Robin Wilson, a leading qualified on sustainable design and style, says quite a few of her clients repurpose a coat closet or other present space. "They find one of the more recent elevators that are hydraulic or pneumatic. These newer models are ready to be put in in a several times and some even use a common electric outlet," she suggests.

Kritsada Panichgul

2. Get Wise about Lighting

Expanding visibility in your dwelling can support enrich mobility and minimize tripping hazards. "As we age, less light-weight reaches our retinas, so we need additional light-weight in our environment to steer clear of falls and other mishaps," claims Lisa M. Cini, an award-winning senior living layout pro. Include lamps, insert skylights, and maintain window treatments ethereal to enable in plenty of light.

Cini says movement sensor lights is ideal for closets, hallways, and major rooms. LEDs underneath the rest room counter or cupboards and over the lavatory vainness can also offer suitable night time lighting. This smooth lights does not disturb circadian rhythms or slumber styles.

Furthermore, be certain exterior pathways are perfectly-lit by setting up solar lights or motion sensors with spotlights.

Annie Schlechter

3. Plan for Adjustable Heights

Decide for peak-adjustable merchandise, like desks for looking at and obtainable sinks for the kitchen. Adjustable kitchen cabinets and counter tops are a further simple way to make sure that each individual member of your house, no matter of age, can obtain really hard-to-access spaces.

Insert step stools with handrails by beds and in closets. Cini recommends a bed that is 21 inches tall as it is the optimum peak for relieve of obtaining in and out. She also states to make absolutely sure the nightstand is available from the mattress and substantial enough to hold glasses, prescription drugs, and drinking water. If the existing heirlooms are not a great fit, go for modern-day overbed or swing-arm tables.

James Yochum

4. Concentration on the Rest room

Authorities spot the most emphasis on retrofitting bathrooms when it comes to building for growing older in spot since this is exactly where slips and falls are most probably to arise. Wilson advises installing a curbless shower with a hand wand. This lets a wheelchair or walker properly into the shower so that elders can bathe alone for for a longer time. "The trick is to guarantee that the flooring slopes a little bit more with a deeper shower pan," Wilson states.

Shower flooring will have to be non-slip and shower knobs must be at wheelchair top. Equally Cini and Walker concur that a hand wand or sprayer is an effortless addition that adds long-time period features. Include grab bars for the shower, rest room, and area above the toilet. "If you choose a tub, select just one that you can get into quickly with a facet-panel doorway," claims Cini.

Brie Williams

5. Just take Edge of Technologies

Explore modern huge range of smart home updates to boost the safety and efficiency of your property. "The newest growing old-in-spot know-how, like Shaw Floor's Sole with SensFloor® engineering, can integrate a risk-free and discreet sensor in the flooring, alerting if somebody falls, or it can only convert on the lights at the time feet strike the floor," she claims. Other technologies, like an automated shut-off for the stove, prevent cooking incidents and offer an included layer of security. There are also several clever-household systems that depend on voice instructions, which can aid everything from contacting neighbors to ordering groceries. To age safely and securely and comfortably at residence, embrace wise-house technology to enable simplicity the actual physical and mental stress of daily jobs.