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demedartsWalker Design


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Walker, Design by Ruth Mateus-Berr & Pia Scharler

Steel, stuffed toys



OCTOPUS represents a rollator (walker) inspired by a Chair of the Brazilian brothers Fernando Campana and Humberto Campana. Friedman Benda presented the Campana Brothers: Concepts as the first solo gallery show in the United States by the renowned Brazilian in 2013.

 The exhibition homepage describes their work as: “Arguably the most influential and acclaimed designers from any emerging country in the world, the Campana Brothers’ work is strongly influenced by their home country, Brazil, and thematically touches upon issues ranging from globalization to sustainability. Light-­‐hearted and playful in nature, the Campanas’ designs often employ the use of recycled and humble materials, elevating these materials to a higher level in the creation of works that cross cultural boundaries while incorporating themes of transformation and reinvention.” (Benda 2013).

An OCTOPUS (pl.: octopuses or octopodes is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda). The order consists of some 300 species and is grouped within the class Cephalopoda with squids, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. The brain of the octopus is extremely complex, as it is distributed from their head to the tips of their arms. The animals therefore have a particularly high level of intelligence. The animals have over 500 million nerve cells, meaning that each individual arm is controlled separately. The octopus thus controls its eight arms through top cognitive performance and outstanding sensory systems and has three hearts.

About my Brain (n.d.) wites: “In Japanese folklore, the octopus is associated with the sea goddess, Takuhatachimanokami, and is considered a symbol of longevity, fertility, and protection. It is also depicted in art and literature as a creature of mystery and intrigue, often representing the depths of the human psyche. In Maori mythology, the octopus is known as "te wheke" and symbolizes adaptability and resourcefulness. The octopus is considered a guardian and protector, guiding sailors through treacherous waters and helping them navigate safely. In some Native American cultures, the octopus is associated with transformation and regeneration due to its ability to regrow lost limbs. It is seen as a powerful totem representing healing and resilience.”

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. This approach also draws on experiences from reminiscence therapy, which deals with memories from personal biographies. This is supplemented by visual, haptic, auditory and olfactory design and in relation to body memories, which still require a lot of research in terms of dementia research.


About my Brain. (n.d.) Octopus. Complexity, Flexibility and Intelligence. Discovering The Octopus Spirit.

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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