Design : The New Art of Prosthetic Limbs
Prosthetic limbs have come a long, long way over the last couple of years – creative, wild designs and greatly increased functionality have transformed the look of that old peg leg. From steampunk to glam, bondage leather to carved wood – the designs keep on coming. Using new 3D scanning and printing techniques, these innovations can mirror the bodies natural contours and fit around an existing prosthetic leg. With the option to design your own limb, you can add metallics, wood, paintings, rhinestones, leather, lace patterns and even tattoos into the mix.
Scott Summit and Bespoke Innovations
Coming from an industrial design background, and with previous clients including Apple and Nike, Scott Summit had years of experience behind him before he entered the prosthetics industry. Summit also gave a TED talk in 2011 about the beauty of prosthetic limbs, take a look at what he had to say on the TED website.
The Alternative Limb Project
At 20, pop artist Viktoria Modesta took the radical decision to undergo a below-the-knee amputation, to improve her mobility following difficulties at birth which left her with a damaged left leg. Working with designer Sophie de Oliveira Barata, founder of the Alternative Limb Project, they created a number of wonderfully outrageous legs.
Oliveira Barata originally trained as a film and TV prosthetics designer and now works with Bespoke, aiming to show the wearer’s personality and individuality in each piece.
She had the idea after one of her regular clients, a young girl called Pollyanna, began requesting a few frills. “I’d been making her leg every year because she was growing,” De Oliveira Barata recalls, “and every year she wanted something different. It started off with little Peppa Pigs at the top of her leg, and they were all eating ice-cream. And the next year she wanted a whole Christmas scene at the top of her leg. She was getting bored coming in every year; it was a chore for her but when she had something to look forward to, it completely changed her experience. And her friends and family were asking her what she was going to have. And it became quite an exciting event for her, so I could see the rehabilitation effect in that way.” – Via The Guardian
Featured below are prosthetics The Alternative Limb Project did for Viktoria Modesta and other gorgeous pieces from their portfolio.
The Crystal Leg
For Viktoria Modesta
The Stereo Leg
For Viktoria Modesta
The Light Leg
For Viktoria Modesta
The Anatomical Leg
This anatomical treat of a leg was designed by Oliveira Barata for Ryan Seary, an ex-serviceman who lost his leg in an explosion during a search mission in Afghanistan.
The Floral Porcelain Leg
Designed for Kiera Roche, chairperson for the charity Limb Power.
“I think losing a limb has a massive impact on one’s self esteem and body image. Having a beautifully crafted limb designed for you makes you feel special.”
The Snake Arm
Created for Jo-Jo Cranfield, a British Swimmer, Motivational/Inspirational Speaker and Swimming Teacher.
“My alternative limb is so different to any other prosthetic limb I have ever had.I wear it with pride. I’ve never seen a two armed person with snakes crawling into their skin, and even if I did I don’t think it would be so comfy! My alternative arm makes me feel powerful, different and sexy!”
We couldn’t find out much about this cool reptilian scaled and collaged arm – but it was too beautiful to skip! I believe it is also designed by Sophie de Oliveira Barata.
William Root’s Exo Leg
Based in San Francisco, industrial designer William Root is currently working on the prototype for what he calls the “Exo-Prosthetic Leg.” Using 3D scanning, modeling, and printing to create customized prosthetic limbs, the manufacturing of high-tech prostheses becomes much more affordable, to people with amputations.
The Alleles Design Studio
These prosthetic leg covers are designed and produced by a Victoria-based startup called the Alleles Design Studio. They are made of graphic, custom, interchangeable scrims called fairings, out of lightweight ABS plastic. Depending on the day, they might be etched out with a Star Wars motif, butterflies, menacing skulls, lace, Alice In Wonderland images or a simple lattice illuminated from behind with a glowing LED.
Limbitless Solutions is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing volunteers and technology to the kids who need it most. After donning the bionic limbs, parents say their children seem more confident, more energetic, and less anxious about interacting with other people. Rather than their disability being a focus of jeering, they get excited questions and curious stares for their sleek bionic limb.
Evan Kuester (Enk’d), wanted to create something custom, something that looks different from the typical 3D printed prosthetic hands for his friend Ivania. He wanted to create something that would be both useful and eye-appealing. He came up with quite the unique design, one that was very feminine and beautiful in appearance. (below)
And here is the more robotic looking “JD-2″, another stunning design from his website.
McQueen made these prosthetic legs of carved elm wood for Aimee Mullins. Mullins is a world-class Paralympic athlete, and she modeled the boots for his 1999 show, No. 13.
“They were solid wood, so there’s no give in the ankle. So any kind of a runway walk that I had practiced went out the window. And then suddenly they laced me into this leather bodice, and there were some spinning discs in the floor of the runway, which I had, while practicing in these wooden legs, you know . . . was very conscious of how to avoid them. But now that my neck was secured in this almost neck-brace position, I couldn’t look down. I couldn’t even see where the spinning discs were. And I just remember thinking, “Okay, you’ve done the Olympics. You’ve done harder things than this. You can do this. You can survive it…
And you know, the fact is, nobody knew that they were prosthetic legs. They were the star of the show—these wooden boots peeking out from under this raffia dress—but in fact, they were actually legs made for me.” - Aimee Mullins