Giving a Hand (and Arm)


During the fall semester of 2008, 21 SVA MFA Designer as Author students were given an assignment by Allan Chochinov to create designs for upper limb prosthetics. “Through readings,
research, and an incredible group of guest critics including Aimee
Mullins, Jon Kuniholm, Frank Wilson and Elliot Washor, the students
attempted to put a dent in what may arguably be one of the most
daunting design challenges imaginable—to design a better prosthetic arm,” he writes on the new website devoted to the outcome. “The
students took different approaches to the problem: some attacked it
directly with mechanical improvements to existing prosthetics. Other students
offered devices and garments that introduced alternative modalities or
provided new functionality. Some students took a more abstract
approach, creating formal, often sculptural, gestures as a way to help
us think about the notion of ‘prosthetic,’ while others took an
extremely conceptual approach to investigating the paradigms and
cultures around prosthetics and amputees.” Above and below are some of the approaches, which are distinguished on the site as Decorative, Playful, Utilitarian and Awareness. (Above: Hands of Wisdom by Dohun Park; below: Backpack Strap by Matthew Heckart; bottom: Toobers & Zots by Mariana Uchoa).

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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