Be a part of – one of the gang
When Ella Westlund was about to start her thesis at Beckmans College of Design, she realised that she could combine her two passions in life, design and working with people with varying abilities.
“I’ve grown up with a little sister who has Down’s syndrome, so that world has always been a natural part of my life. As soon as I got the opportunity, I started working with artistic activities for people with varying abilities, something I really love and still do.”
Ella recalls how as a child she accompanied her sister to an experience centre called Korallen, which had different theme rooms where you could touch everything and feel different textures. So when it was time to start working on her thesis project, Ella sought permission to go back there to do research and find inspiration.
“I discovered that although many of the children use a wheelchair, in the family room, where you meet other parents and children, there wasn't a proper space for one. As many important meetings between parents and children, as well as with other families, are also held there, I wanted to make them easier.”
From that identified need emerged the Be a part of seating furniture, which leaves space for the wheelchair between the two seats, so it ends up at the same level. It’s also ideal for parents who want to talk about difficult things because they can sit face-to-face. The project was so successful that NC decided to partner with Ella to develop it into a finished product that can help create inclusive spaces.
“I wanted to create something that would make a difference to someone. A product that changes our perception of who public spaces are intended for. A place where everyone feels included.”
So what does little sis think of your sofa?
“Although not a wheelchair user herself, she thinks it’s great. And it’s all thanks to her that I came into contact with this fantastic world, so without my sis there would never have been any sofa.”
“I wanted to create a product that changes our perception of who public spaces are intended for.”