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demedartsWalker Design


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Walker, Design by Ruth Mateus-Berr & Pia Scharler

Steel, earth, flowers, wood



GARDENER represents a rollator (walker) designed for people who need a walker and love gardening. This rollator speaks to the joy of feeling your hands in the soil, or the smell of the earth, the gardening gloves, the scent of flowers. It is a kind of raised bed that you can take for a walk.

This can also create interaction, which can have a positive effect on people with dementia with a basic withdrawal behavior and experience of loneliness, because it can be assumed that people will be approached by rollators designed in this way. This object draws on experience from reminiscence therapy*, which deals with memories from personal biographies. In addition, this is supplemented by haptic** and olfactory design*** in relation to memories of the body, which still requires a great deal of research in relation to dementia research.

The color green**** is reminiscent of nature, is symbolically the color of life, hope and much more.

This walker represents Critical Design, which is a style of design that criticizes things or conditions, here it draws attention to a deficiency in design and demands the right to self-determined and self-confident aesthetics. The objects are not intended for actual use, they are intended to contribute to a change in design.

*Bluck, S., & Levine, L. J. (1998). Reminiscence as autobiographical memory: A catalyst for reminiscence theory development. Ageing & Society, 18(2), 185–208.

** It is likely that the absence of touch makes it harder to pursue actual interpersonal contact in remote conversations, given the substantial role of the senses in social interactions. This may probably be even more important for populations who experience difficulties in verbalization or have cognitive problems Moreover, it has been shown that communication through a tactile modality can lead to more personal conversations. Residents and people with dementia tend to prefer more natural haptic devices.

>American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; American Psychiatric Association Publishing: Washington, DC, USA, 2022; ISBN 0-89042-575-2. [Google Scholar]

>Langland, R.M.; Panicucci, C.L. Effects of Touch on Communication with Elderly Confused Clients. J. Gerontol. Nurs. 1982, 8, 152–155. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]

>Ipakchian Askari, S. Separated by Distance, Connected by Technology?: Perceptions, Experiences and Responses towards Affective Haptic Devices. Ph.D. Thesis, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 2022. [Google Scholar]

>Vasseur, Dianne, Sima Ipakchian Askari, Sandra Suijkerbuijk, Henk Herman Nap, and Wijnand IJsselsteijn. 2024. "Sensory, Affective, and Social Experiences with Haptic Devices in Intramural Care Practice" Nursing Reports 14, no. 1: 230-253.

***Attention: In Alzheimer Dementia (60-70%) patients, olfactory dysfunction usually appears as a reduced smelling ability known as hyposmia. Unlike congenital anosmia, olfactory deficits in AD patients appear during preclinical stages of the disease before the manifestation of cardinal AD symptoms. >Vyhnalek M, Magerova H, Andel R, et al. Olfactory identification in amnestic and non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment and its neuropsychological correlates. J Neurol Sci. 2015;349:179–184. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2015.01.014.

>Son G, Jahanshahi A, Yoo SJ, Boonstra JT, Hopkins DA, Steinbusch HWM, Moon C. Olfactory neuropathology in Alzheimer's disease: a sign of ongoing neurodegeneration. BMB Rep. 2021 Jun;54(6):295-304. doi: 10.5483/BMBRep.2021.54.6.055. PMID: 34162463; PMCID: PMC8249876.

****Heller, Eva (1989, 3rd edition). How colors work. Hamburg: Rowohlt Verlag GmbH. p. 71-88

DEMEDARTS is an artistic research project of the Center for Didactics for Art and Interdisciplinary Education at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), within the PEEK-program (Programm zur Erweiterung und Erschließung der Künste): A-609 ; Project DOI: 10.55776/AR609

The project runs from: February 2020 – January 2023


2024 Arte Laguna Prize for Art & Design. International Prize for Contemporary Art.

AWARD FUNDER: Italian Cultural association MoCA (Modern Contemporary Art)

Ruth Mateus-Berr and Pia Scharler

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