How can designers and makers facilitate the feeling of ownership of a prosthetic?
Professor Graham Pullin of Dundee University approached our Inclusionaries Lab member, Andrew, as part of MAKLab to become the maker partner alongside UCL Institute of Making of the project, Hands of X. Mass customisation and digital manufacturing was opening up ways to create fast bespoke items. What could it do for the world of prosthetics and how material choices could create feelings of ownership?
We hosted a few workshops with varied expert background participants, including designers, makers and amputees. In these workshops we played around with material combinations by creating a two sided pin you could wear. We asked participants to describe what these combinations meant to them and why they liked them, some were aesthetic, some were tactile and some were practical choices. Then we moved onto dissecting the hand into sections, asking what material where and why. These material choices and dissections informed the final 3 designs of the hands.
The Hands of X first outcome was to create the service side of a bespoke hand. We set up a mock up shop in the glasses shop Cubitts, Charing X. Cubitts create their eyewear in the shop and so the design similarities were present, a space where design merges with the medical. Hands of X also exhibited work within the Dundee Design Festival and within MAKLab
A personal insight while working with the Hands of X project is where the line between simple manufacturer and designer. The confidence to constrain your clients choices because you are still the expert and understand what will and won’t work e.g. making a hand out of solid brass is not going to be comfortable but brass features can be achievable. Hands of X is still an ongoing project but I am no longer involved.