I recently returned from Cincinnati, where I gave a talk on the early career of Donald Deskey, whose archive is held at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. I was asked to speak by the University of Cincinnati and by Deskey Associates, headquartered in Cincinnati, in conjunction with their joint installation on Donald Deskey’s design career. Among Deskey’s major accounts is Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble for which the firm has designed packaging from 1948 until today. Serendipitously, the exhibition and related symposium opened about the same time the US Postal Service announced a new stamp series on the Pioneers of American Industrial Design (to be published July 2011), which features Deskey among the first generation of influential industrial designers. While in Cincinnati, I was fortunate enough to be escorted around the University’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) by Robert Probst, Dean of the college, and by Craig Vogel, Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. Among the impressive adjuncts of the industrial-design program is the nonprofit Live Well Collaborative, started by Craig Vogel with Proctor & Gamble in 2007. This initiative in fact lives outside DAAP, but partners faculty from DAAP and from the Business, Medicine, Engineering, and Nursing departments with students and member corporations (including Procter & Gamble, Hill-Rom, and Boeing) to research and resolve design issues concerning consumers, especially those over the age of fifty. The collaborative has completed twenty-four projects, involving over thirty university faculty and more than 300 students. Each project is based on a ten-week schedule, during which team members research a problem presented by a firm; and students prepare drawings, models, and prototypes of design solutions. Among the case studies I reviewed, one particularly stood out because it addressed a problem most of us have faced at one time or other: the hospital gown. We know how uncomfortable we can be in those shapeless pieces of cloth or paper that leave us almost completely exposed—especially from behind! Sponsored by the pharmaceutical firm Hill-Rom, a multidisciplinary team was brought together with students from the fields of industrial design, fashion design, product development, business, and biomedical engineering, as well as consultants from nursing. After studying anatomical sites, students concentrated on creating ideas for a gown that was one-piece construction, accommodated patient mobility, increased patient comfort, and offered the variety and the feel of home living throughout the patient’s stay. In the final phase of the project, students designed gowns that would fulfill patients’ needs through three stages of a typical hospital visit—low-mobility, medium-mobility, and high-mobility. All of the models looked 100% better than what exists right now! For more on the Live Well Collaborative, visit www.livewellcollaborative.org.

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