Two years ago I reluctantly accepted my Occupational Therapist’s suggestion that I should start using a profiling (hospital-style) bed in order to help manage my pain. I was resistant to the idea because it was a single bed, and weirdly this felt like going backwards – but I gave it a try and it was a revelation! The new bed meant I was much more comfortable every night.
But two years of my feet kicking against it eventually took its toll, and earlier this year the foot got broken beyond repair. Leftwing Idiot suggested I replace it with colourful Perspex, and during the first weeks of lockdown Erik made a template drawing and found a company that would cut the Perspex to the right size. Then I decided to do the headboard as well! After that all we needed to do was pick the colours for them both, have them made and get them installed.
I’m really thrilled with the finished result. I went for bright orange at my feet, like the sun rising, and a dark blue, like the night sky, for the headboard. The combination of intense colour and light shining through them makes me feel super-happy.
Products related to health or disability are often designed to try and blend in so as not be noticed, but that can give them a clinical feel which actually makes them stand out more, particularly in a domestic environment. Instead of explaining away my single profiling-bed to any visitors, I now proudly show off my beautiful colourful bed.
While the functions of my bed help my pain, the addition of playful colour and light is helping my mood and emotional wellbeing. This makes me think of the work of Touretteshero-friend and designer Karen Arthur who’s Wear Your Happy project explores how the colour and texture of our clothing can improve our mental wellbeing.
There have been times when I’ve felt guilty about wanting something to look nice or where I’ve felt unable to ask for aesthetic preferences for fear of being seen as fussy. But wanting products that make us feel good and that we enjoy looking at isn’t something to feel embarrassed about. In my view, products are likely to work better and be used more if they complement who we are – I’d love colour, texture and customizability to be prioritised more in the design of medical products and aids, and I think not doing so misses a trick.