Previous discussions between us and a regular client regarding staff requiring specialist facilities got Jo and Jamie thinking about how they might begin to address such needs.
The client in question had a member of staff that suffered from epilepsy, so Jamie decided to research whether there was anything that could be done to improve safety in the workplace for such people.
Initial research failed to find anything that already existed in terms of specialist furniture for people suffering from epilepsy. There are specialized table mats (primarily for children) and pillows, but no furniture and certainly nothing for use in an office. Thus a project was born to try and create the world’s first office desk for epilepsy sufferers.
The primary objectives were to create a height-adjustable desk that could be used in a typical working environment for people suffering from epilepsy, without making it obvious that the product was markedly different from an “ordinary” item of office furniture.
Following the initial research, it became clear that there were a number of challenges to overcome if affordable, functional (and aesthetically “normal” looking) furniture was to be designed and manufactured. These included:
1. Ensuring there were no sharp or overly solid corners – they would need to be soft enough to cushion any impact from the person having a seizure, but firm enough to provide a useable work surface
2. Determining the most suitable material for cushioning purposes and the upholstery material that would provide the actual work surface, i.e. durable, easy to clean, affordable and providing an appropriate balance between firmness (for working on) and softness (to protect against impact)
3. Ensuring construction costs are minimized to ensure affordability for clients.
The material testing phase of the project was crucial in achieving the correct balance between firmness (for normal desk usage) and softness (for impact protection).
During 2017/18-site trials of the prototype desk were completed. The desk was a success! This exciting and innovative solution is one of its kind and will soon be much more widely used.