Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I have been working away developing my concepts so here are a few scans and snippets to show the progressions I have taken.

Most of the concepts evolve around 3 key areas. These were:

*QoL(quality of life)/fixings

The corsetry influence was looking at what was already socially acceptable in current social society for the age group I am focusing on. Corsets are often seen as a desirable object to wear for 16-25 yr old females, which is something which I would like to transfer to the medical back brace.

Just as crutches are deemed more acceptable and ‘cool’ than two walking sticks. This negative back lash can act as a deterrent to the patient to use the product, this can result in the patient rejecting the product and so putting their rehabilitation/recovery at risk. I want to try and install this acceptable youth culture onto other rehabilitation products to address social stigma’s and encourage the patient to embrace their situation and use the product.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The importance of a good mannequin !

I have been using Doris/Gladis quite a lot recently not only to use to visualise 3d sketches with paper but to also mould with for the plastic prototyping.

I rely on a mannequin quite a lot for the development process. As a result it has also been very important to me that I get a realistic idea of shapes and sizes which is why Doris and Gladis have been so hard to find.

Their measurements are near enough anatomically correct which is an achievement in itself. So many mannequins now have unrealistic body shapes which would distort the design too much if I were to use any mannequin I could find. It has to be remembered they are predominantly used to hang clothes on and so are altered in any to best display the product. What I find interesting is the comparison between the new mannequins you see in Top Shop’s front window and one you find in your mums attic (or an art school). It is a scary reality of the impact of the size 0 fashion trend.

Another important factor was the posture of the mannequin. You may think this is irrelevant as they are all straight backed, however many have over exaggerated posture such as rotated hips which result in an extenuated curve of the lower spine rendering it useless for back brace design where the function of the product demands a ‘tucked in’ tail bone and spinal stabilisation.

Just something which I thought I should explain so you understood my obsession with Doris and Gladis

Monday, 22 March 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen I introduce to you......Gladis

I may have lost my lovely Doris but I have talent spotted her replacement in the form of Gladis who Fraser very nicely helped me ‘borrow’ from another department.

I have also been lucky enough to get an amazing workshop helper in the form of Fraser an ex grad who has come back to aid my workshop needs (seeing as I am not allowed/not able to do much)

Either way it is onward and upward from here, prototyping is cracking on so expect photos soon and more updates.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Quote of the Week...

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation and a pinch of creativity.”

Bo Bennett

I think to be a good designer you have to become passionate about what you are working on as this passion and enthusiasm is the driver for your creativity. If you are working on something you enjoy or have a vested interest in not only do you come from a better position in terms of research and understanding of the product but you will be more willing to put in the hours and go above and beyond to really push yourself to your limits for the ultimate final product.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Corsetry - structure

Corsets are historically made up in a modular manner something that I would like to continue through into medical brace design as I feel it will make them a lot more flexible and adjustable to the patients shape and therefore be more comfortable to wear.

Corset makers stiffened the material structure by inserting boning which was often slid into ‘pockets’ which were built into the material. I do wonder if this could be done with a medical brace so it wasn’t so cumbersome while keeping the rigid panelling to provide the support and restriction which are needed while having material panelling in others to allow more flexibility in movement and more ease in fitting.

Corsets were traditionally custom made as without this the overall effect would be lost and it would be even more uncomfortable to wear – I do wonder if this is similar for the back brace. It is not really financially viable for the NHS to custom make every single brace. However if not completely custom designed I believe that at least a more suitable element of adjustability could be built in to the design.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Corsetry - medical benefits ?

While still on the hunt for a new Doris i have been looking more into corsetry and its background trying to find links and inspiration which i can use for my back brace designs.

Corsets are renowned for their negative impacts on the wearers health. This was partly due to the obsession with the size of the waist so what some wearers would go to extreme lengths when putting them on such as lying on the floor and having another person put a put on their back while pulling up the lacing. Corsetry has been blamed for many ailments including deformed spines/ribcages and compression of internal organs. However at the turn of the century some doctors produced a corset which was designed to support a woman figure without undue pressure.

There was also the introduction of ‘dance’ and ‘sports’ corsets which had more flexibility in its structure. Many doctors did speak out over their concerns about the more traditional rigid corsets but were faced with historical opinions that a woman needed support citing that evolution was harder on them – something which has since been disregarded much the same as we have dismissed the use of a corset in everyday life instead opting for a 2 piece structure.

The medical corset/back brace is almost in the opposite position. It has medical benefits to those with spinal problems but is very undesirable in everyday society. I believe that a rigid structured corset provids a very similar funcation as a back brace but had a negative health effect due to the extreams which the users could wear it .... so maybe it is a matter of control. Allowing flexability and adjustability which not giving the user too much 'fiddling' capabilities !?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

I've lost my Doris !

Doris my beautiful manequin who has been very kindly working with me has been taken back by her original owners.

She has been helping me make 3d visual concepts with paper and masking tape so that I could visualise and communicate my ideas and concepts more efficiently. This process is also a very good way of understanding how shapes need to be alterned when transfered from a 2d sketch to a 3d object. I have also been using her almost like a 3d skecthbook by spitballing ideas and playng with new shapes directly onto her figure so she will be sadly missed as we had built up a good working relationship.

The hunt now begins to find her replacement as soon as possible so that I can continue my work, so if anyone knows where i could find a female torso manequine please let me know !

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Quote of the Week

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”

Jamie Paolinetti – digital media designer

I love this concept that we can do anything we can put our minds too. Or maybe this can be interpreted into the products that we design for others to learn from that. So for example with rehabilitation products reminding the user to push themselves and that they can do things, give them goals to aim for, give them something to strive at.

Corsetry - a history

Corsets have been worn, in some shape or form, since 3000 BC. The concept of a garment which pulls in the waist is considered to have been originally thought up by Cretan woman and this trend continued on through to the Middle Ages. The early forms were structured similar to a ribbed belt and used materials such as linen and kid.

In the 14th century tailors started to introduce the use of stiffened linen and lacing to pull the garment in tight close to the body. Each corset was custom made to the wearer and they created accurate shaping by moulding onto the person. They did this by sandwiching 2 layers of linen with a form of stiff paste which was then pressed and held against the body.

The use of whale bone was introduced in the 16th century. This was the start of a much more rigid design for corsetry. It was also around this time the length of the corset was extended beyond the natural waistline forming a similar structure and shaping as a medical back brace. By 1930 corsets had become a lot more flexible in structure with the development of elastic and latex, these were known as a roll-on or corselet.

I am interested in taking inspiration from both the rigid whale bone corset and the more flexible ‘corselet’. Maybe the same design can achieve the benefits of both !?