Deconstructing Product Design
I heard about this famous prosthetic foot years ago in India, but have never before seen an image of it. The rumor was that it was incredibly cheap, and also made out of a flexible rubber that made it possible for the user to sit on the ground or climb a tree. Western prosthetic feet made no accommodations for either of these uses, and as a result were not only too expensive to be affordable in India, but also did not suit the needs of the target market. Glad to see the foot included on a list that otherwise seems to be a relentless inventory of the classics of product branding — it’s a token humanitarian brand-name, just a reminder of those pesky “other” considerations.
Simplicity, usability, affordability. Given its imitative nature, one might consider it a stretch to recognize the Jaipur Foot as a phenomenally successful product “design”. But to create an aesthetic and functional equivalent for what nature evolved over millions of years, and then to manufacture it so cheaply most anyone can afford it — all in an effort to reduce human suffering — well, that’s just about the pinnacle of product design.
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