Some background on our mission
Since the beginning of time our furniture has been designed to help us overcome the physical obstacles our bodies face every day: to ease our backs someone attached a plank to a stool and invented a chair. Who did it or where it happened we’ll never know, but chairs have been with us ever since. To ease our sleep our ancestors put hides or straw on the floor. Today we take chairs and mattresses for granted because we forget that somebody came up with these ideas as way to cope with our bodies' limitations--perhaps we forget because we don't think about our limitations very much, specially in that brief moment when our bodies reach their peak physical power. Something else we don't think much about are the efforts to make our homes beautiful, which go back at least 17,000 years in the magnificent caves at Lascaux and Altamira. To look at the horses and deer painted on stone against the odds of inclement weather and near famine is to realize the importance of comfort, harmony, and beauty for the cave dwellers who created them.Keeping in mind that bodies need help at any age, and that our well-being is deeply rooted in a beautiful home has become more relevant than ever. Yet the norm in today's society is that our bodies only need help when injured or old, and that homes should only be beautiful at the peak of our lives. We blank out the fact that chairs and mattresses are there to supplement our bodies at any age, yet our conventional wisdom is that a grab bar in a bathroom is the sign of an ‘ailing, failing body.' This same train of thought has led our society to conclude that 'regular' chairs in our home should be well designed and beautifully upholstered while lift chairs 'for the old' must be ugly by default.
This terrible mindset became conventional wisdom the day old age became a 'medical problem.’ At some point the word ‘elder’ no longer implied a source of wisdom and legacy and became associated with the word ‘patient.’ As in those who must be treated and confined to institutions built to hide them from 'healthy, productive society.’ As this transformation took place anything designed to help anyone older with the realities of their daily life, a couch assist for example, was thought of as a medical device that should look like it belonged in a hospital. At least in the world of furniture ‘senior’ is now synonymous with cheaply made, oversized and institutional contraptions that were never meant to be in a home. Our bodies are in constant change from the minute we're born. As we go through each stage our limitations change as well. At a certain point in our personal development we need reading glasses or more light, issues which were solved hundreds of years ago with clever hacks. That at some point we need extra help getting up or sitting down and that past a certain age we're prone to fall down doesn't mean that we're ill or that there is a medical issue at stake. It means we need another hack, like the first reading glasses invented in 1268 to help monks be productive throughout their working lives at Italian monasteries. The good news is that more and more we're recognizing the huge mistake our society has made in the way we think about old age. Books that are challenging the conventional wisdom, like Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, and defiant manifestos like This Chair Rocks are garnering readers by the hundreds of thousands. Slowly but surely we're coming around to the idea that something has been terribly wrong in the way we think about our latter years. Some of the most visible establishment leaders, starting with the head of AARP, are actually calling for the ‘disruption of aging.’ We couldn't agree more that a great deal has to change.