Carla Pelligra is a young Australian designer who decided to innovate in the area of mobility aid market and solve a range of mobility challenges with an elegant and functional solution which she calls Frankie Chair. It looks impractical at times to call a normal chair a mobility chair without featuring tires at its base. However, Frankie chair is not designed for roving and is meant for old folks to sit and help them with day-to-day mobility issues.
Not being too negative, the chair is partially good with the inclusion of sensors but disappoints with its design and ergonomics. I don’t owe anyone an explanation to anyone on my personal views but even if I have to elucidate the reasons behind terming it a big-time disappointment, I have my rebuttal mode ready, but that is entirely a different debate or more about personal liking, I’d say which I’d avoid while describing the chair to you.
Nevertheless, it is Australia’s National Runner Up in the 2022 James Dyson Award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. A brouhaha might have erupted after that achievement which is certainly motivating for the young designer’s confidence, but I still feel the product is too substandard when it comes to design, functionality and style.
Talking about a few positives first, the designer touts the chair features pressure sensors to help caretakers keep a tab on old people or those suffering with dementia. As per the designer, the system uses a conductive plastic sheet that is coded to detect a change in resistance.
So when there will be a decrease in resistance below a certain threshold, a notification will pop on the care taker’s phone that the patient or the person in general is off his chair. This sounds good and will be great for patients with movement disabilities, especially walking. So, if a patient fell off his chair, the care taker may get run in immediately.
Taking design and style into consideration next, the Frankie chair comprises an aluminum base stacked with wood and upholstery as seen in the pictures. Too many cooks spoil the broth and that is evident in pictures too. In the world of minimal design, it just comes out as a desperate fusion.
Nonetheless, Like any other chair, there are adjustable arms and adjustable legs to suit various user anthropometrics. Overall, it is not a ground breaking innovation, but would be worth reviewing once it passes the prototype stage. Honestly speaking, it doesn’t look stylish at all, but functions like one, if we believe the designer.
The functional aspect include a tilt mechanism which is made up of a series of aluminum linkages. This configuration of parts allows the base of the chair to tilt to a 20-degrees incline to help users go from a sitting to standing position easily.
To actuate the tilt, a switch is located underneath the left arm. With a mere flick, the chair raises 20-degrees, and a flick to the other returns it back to the neutral position. Too cliché but we will keep or eyes glued to it.
However, if the prototype ever gets to production state it will be interesting to see whether it walks the talk or not. Carla Pelligra calls it a stylish and functional mobility chair. Not to be rude, but there are more aesthetic, stylish and ten times more functional chairs in the market than Frankie.