Mobile Waschgelegenheit für Bettlägerige – mobile unit for bathing bed-ridden patients
Appreciation of the winner
by Rido Busse
Today, everything is termed and labeled “designer.” Designer clothing is “in fashion,” at least for those who can afford it, and people wearing Jil Sander or Armani outfits loll at marble tables made by Zanotta or at the ironic anti-designs of the Kunstflug group and drink tea or coffee from collectors’ cups made by Rosenthal.
To a large extent, design still is understood as a synonym for a product’s aesthetics. As designers and manufacturers, however, we know that the term encompasses much more and that ergonomics, for example, must be taken into consideration as do technological functions, production technology and many other factors.
A truly good product, an optimally designed and developed product, guarantees a company’s survival. A truly good product sells itself. Truly good products need less advertising, and salespeople have to put less effort into convincing their customers to buy. A truly good product lasts longer, which means that model cycles are longer, which saves money and resources. Many companies have learned that design concept, ergonomics and product aesthetics – that is, what the designer is mainly responsible for – play a crucial role in the success or failure of a product – but not all companies.
It still is difficult to comprehend why companies procure design services in the same way they procure nails and why they compare designers’ quotations in the same way they would compare sausages in the supermarket. These companies have not yet understood that the cost of design services is low compared to the cost of developing a new product until the first unit is sold. They have yet to grasp the fact that fees paid to good designers always are a good investment and that the first question never should be, “how much is it,” but rather, “how good is the designer and how reliably and quickly can the assignment be implemented.” Companies that consider themselves part of the industrial sector rather than the arts and crafts sector incur more losses through a one-month sales delay than a designer charges for his or her services.
Now to the winners: the 1989 Bavarian State Prize for Young Designers was presented to two industrial designers who coincidentally worked on the same problem in a sector that could be referred to as “aid for people.” The first winner, Andreas Dober, presented almost no written documentation but rather a few – very good – cartoons as well as handwritten notes and drafts. He did not even present a model (for health reasons he was unable to deliver it) but only photos of his model. From my experience as a juror, I know that situations such as this from the outset are destined to fail. The solution Dober offered, however, was so plausible that it received a great deal of credit. Dober drafted a concept for a mobile washstand for hospitals that can be used to bath patients, including washing their hair, in an optimal manner without the patient having to leave his or her bed. The principle is as simple as it is evident: integrated into a wheeled rack, the washbasin’s height can be adjusted, it can be tilted to the side and it can be pushed or pulled in all directions. The lower part of the rack holds two containers, one for fresh water which can be heated, and one for waste water. All you need is an electrical outlet, which is available in most hospital rooms.