Unless you or someone close to you needs one, wheelchair design isn’t one of those things that’s usually top of mind. But there are few other product design areas where a well-designed product can have such an important influence on someone’s life and health (check out my recent story on a line of sexy, modern canes). That’s why I got excited when I got a pitch from Brandon Fonville with 1800wheelchair.com, a company specializing in mobility aides. Last month the company launched 800W Design, a new brand that will take a fresh approach to the aesthetics of wheelchairs, including the addition of new colors and custom stitching. I asked Brandon a few questions about the new line, and how it stands out from the rest of the designs on the market.
DT: What inspired your modern take on the wheelchair?
Brandon Fonville: After 15 years of selling wheelchairs and mobility products from other manufactures, I was always bothered by the aesthetics of some of the products; especially wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. Most products we interact with on a daily basis have a certain aesthetic value that gets more designed over time. Why should wheelchairs be any different? I partnered up with Medline, one of the largest medical manufacturing companies, and they allowed me to “re-dress” any of their wheelchairs, so we started with two products. The matte gray wheelchair was inspired by the colorways of Italian Vespa Scooters and modern-day office chairs. The pearl white transport chair grew out of our customers going to weddings and formal events and wanting to sit in a nice chair. We also sell to museums and restaurants, and that’s where we are looking for a modern twist on the wheelchair .
DT: What materials are they made of?
BF: They are constructed of lightweight aluminum. The pearl white 800W Design Collection Transport Chair weighs only 14.5 pounds, which makes it easy to travel with and lift into a car. The matte gray 800W Design Collection Wheelchair is 37 lbs. and is self-propelled. On both models we used a breathable, mesh-like upholstery [detail shown above] that’s never been used on wheelchairs before.
DT: Where are they made?
BF: The chairs are manufactured in China.
DT: How much do they cost?
BF: The 800W Design Collection Transport Chair costs $199.00, and the 800W Design Collection Wheelchair costs $250.00. Shipping is free.