It would not be an exaggeration to say that the best design item created last year in Brazil was a prosthetic leg cover. The product meets a real need hitherto poorly met. It is unprecedented, and even cheaper and affordable than its similar products. It has an intangible feature that distinguishes good design, a characteristic that expands functionality to achieve affection.
Empathy was also decisive for the creative process, led by designers Rodrigo Brenner and Mauricio Noronha, from the Furf studio, in Paraná. The approach and conversations with amputees made the designers identify that one of the main goals should be to give back self-esteem to that group of people. There were also other breakthroughs to innovate, such as the fact that the more traditional models available on the market ended up being frustrating in their attempt to mimic leg shape and skin color – especially low-cost ones, usually a combination of foam or plastic and nylon stockings –, or very expensive and not everyone for everyone, such as those tailored through 3D printing.
The client, the company ID Ethnos, gave the designers full freedom of propositions. According to them, at first the idea was to develop an exclusive 3D model. However, they decided to “do the opposite”: a product made in scale and inclusive. The strategy was to create a single adaptive model, and with the possibility of customization, transforming the new cover into an element that expresses style and identity. There is nothing better than design to propose this, without failing to meet the primordial function of the cover and solving a series of limitations, such as cost.
The new cover is for the right and left legs, for men and women, and for different heights. The piece is divided into two parts, front and back sides, which quickly fit through magnets and screws, and wearing them is like wearing any other accessory. A linear marking on the inside allows it to be easily cut by the user when purchased, adjusting it to the size of the prosthesis. A decorative element brings lightness to the design and gives name to the product, Confetti. Small holes that resemble round carnival confetti, which allow that tapes, ribbons and other elements to be added – in July, designer Humberto Campana organized a small workshop in his studio in São Paulo to inspire the customizations.
Confetti is the world’s first mass-produced, colorful and adaptable prosthetic leg cover and re-signifies the fact that injected plastic is a means of creating democratic products. It became a matter of curiosity and recognition. “Today, many users say that they receive compliments and smiles from people in the day-to-day.” The creation was internationally recognized with the Bronze Lion at Cannes in the Product Design category, won the Best of the Best in the acclaimed German Red Dot Award, the Honorable Mention at this year’s Brazilian House Museum Award, and was exhibited in London at an important Wired magazine event. The best news, however, is that since August the product – up to eight times cheaper than its competitors, whose market price ranges between 400 and 500 reais – was included in the INSS list of benefits, distributed at no cost to those who need it. Furf and ID Ethnos have new projects in progress.
There are many fields in which design can be a transformation agent, thousands of things that can better fulfill their purpose by being redesigned in a clear, synthetic and creative way. I’ll leave you now with a quote from the designers: “We always think of the broader scenario and the deep meaning of the word “design”, which for us is a question of how we can make humanity evolve.”