Aiding the elderly

Student innovation

It pained Nishtha Varshney to watch her grandmother struggle every time she tried to sit. So the 21-year-old decided to put her interior design skills to good use and design an armchair for elderly people.

“I have seen my naniji struggle with her surroundings because of problems that come with age and make it difficult for her to sit and relax. So, after discussing it with my college mentor, I decided to design an armchair for our graduation project,” Varshney tells Metrolife.

She adds, “I concentrated on an armchair and not a normal chair, as during my research I realised that elderly people need support to hold on to something while sitting so that they are confident about not falling down. So an armchair was the perfect solution.”

Titled ‘Furniture for Elderly People’, the armchair has been designed keeping in mind the comfort component, and also has other essentials like stick and medicine holders. “When I started my research, I learnt about the health problems which come with age. As the curvature of the back starts bending, there are problems related to joints, skin becomes fragile, muscles becoming weaker and sleep disorders are common. Keeping all these in mind, the height of the armchair is kept slightly higher than a normal chair so that it doesn’t strain the knees.

Additionally, the edges have been kept curved, there is a provision for a detachable
pillow, magazine and newspaper rack along with a stick and a small medicine holder. Besides the essentials, the teak wood armchair is easy to maintain and also holds a foot stool which gives support to their legs,” she says.
How did she zero in on these aspects? “As I was advised to include a larger audience, I prepared user survey forms, went to a hospital and got it filled by elderly men and women. This exercise gave me some new issues to focus on, like different body needs. After that, I visited an old age home as well as a public park where I observed the issues that old people face.

For instance, as the benches in parks are too high, they don’t get foot support, or they don’t have any space to keep their walking sticks, and sometimes, they carry their own cushions,” says the Noida’s IMS Design and Innovation Academy (DIA) student, who showcased her creation at the recently held two-day annual graduating show Concept’16.

 Prod her on the challenges she faced during the two-month long project, she mentions, “As it was my first furniture piece, I faced some problems in the technicalities. Other than that, because I had a long list of what all can be included in a particular armchair, it was a big task to alter and decide what all to include.”

Recalling how one of the very first sale happened, she says that as of now, she’s customising on need basis and not looking to commercialise. “I got an armchair made in around a month. When the carpenter was working in his workshop, one of his clients liked the concept so much that they bought it from me. I got another armchair ready within the next 15 days for my graduating exhibit.

After such positive response and many enquiries, I am planning to keep on working individually and not looking to commercialise as of now,” she says.

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