Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Swing the heartache

Something I don't like about this "creativity" business... is when some one claims to be the "inventor" of the black thread... Why can't those "inventors" just go their local library, ask for a book (or use the public computers) and see that they are not the first ones to come up with that idea!

Of course that innovations exist... but they usually don't come out from someone in a garage with no connection to the rest of the world! 100 years ago... it was understandable that developers in different places might come out with similar ideas almost simultaniously... without knowing about each other. But we live now in a globalized world! Not knowing (or not wanting to know) about what is being made in other places is not an excuse anymore...
    Thirteen years ago, Wayne Devine's heart sank when he watched able-bodied children enjoying the swings at his local park while a child in a wheelchair was unable to join in. Instead of walking away, Wayne was compelled to do something about it. The Liberty Swing is a revolutionary new concept in playground equipment for people with disabilities. The Liberty Swing is a world-first innovation - developed from the ground up with public use in mind. Its inventive design allows the swing to blend in perfectly with other playground equipment. (via)
Nowadays, there's no excuse for people who claim to be the inventors of a "world-first innovation"... Just search on google for swings for (the) disabled... there are 563,000 results... NOT all of them are about the "liberty swing". Look at this other examples:
Strictly from a design point of view... the liberty swing is "over-engineered". It's just too masive, no formal composition... there's no consistent design language, and many other problems. But wait... that's not all! The liberty swing costs about $25,000NZ (via). When we saw it on the local TV news ... they said $35,000NZ and I just fell backwards! I told Sandra that we could make it for maybe less than $3,000NZ... and then, say 5,000 already installed, etc. Just look at the prices of the UK and US models: $1,500US +S&H ... where do the other 23,500 go!?

That just breaks my heart!... or we should get a contract for our standers with Auckland's city council.

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Blogger raul said...

As the song says: Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many swings did you see in Council parks that were for disabled children confined to wheelchairs before this swing came along, I think I can safely say none, the reason being that play ground equipment that goes into these council parks have to meet stringent safety requirements, as for being over designed If I had lost say 80 to 90 percent of my mobility I would want to be in the safest possible swing wouldn’t you.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...

You are right, most parks do not comply with universal accessability (?)... there's still a lot to be done in that matter.

My point of view is that in order to make products like this swing (or any other product for people with special needs) they have to be at a reasonable price. I know that manufacturing in Australia or New Zealand doesn't come cheap... but still. If you know that manufacturing is going to be expensive, then you have to be careful as a designer not to overprice or over-engineer a product. You have to be twice as careful controling your budget.

We had a similar problem with our standers... we went 3 times over budget... and then the overseas freight costs almost the same as the whole price of the product! However, we only had to adjust the sales price 50% and absorved the overspending.

And you are right, when it comes to quality in these kind of products, we also didn't hesitate to use the best materials and processes available, like laser cut, 1st quality joints and parts, best quality hygenic grade materials, etc... (that's why we went over budget).

What I find interesting about the liberty swing, is that they are promoting to get them through sponsors... now, that is a good idea if they are so expensive.


7:02 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

Well all I can say is thank you; my daughter and myself have met so many people while we have been at our local Liberty swing we live in Sydney New South Wales, that it is not funny. Young children stop to look and then start talking to my daughter, and locales using the walking path that goes past the swing often stop and talk.
Once again thank you

10:02 AM  
Blogger Fernando Vallejo said...

Hi Wendy!

It's very nice to hear that story. We are not the manufacturers of the liberty swing. You can find them here:

Usually, when we think about design, we imagine refined styling and shapes... what we call aesthetics. However there's a very important side of design, and that's how it improves the lifestyle of the user and makes a (positive) impact on cultural and social values.

Your story shows that at the end, it's the social values what most matter to the user(s).

If you like to know more about what makes a good product, check out the design criteria from the Japanese Good design awards. Here are some examples:

- It shows a high level of solving the problems facing the user.
- It presents new modes of communication among people.
-It will have a long useful life.
- It creates a new lifestyle for the next generation.
- It gives rise to social and cultural values.
-It contributes to a broadening of the social base.
-It contributes to the realization of a sustainable society.


4:52 PM  

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