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Human immobility

zalรกn szakรกcs

Human immobility research project taliaYstudio


special thanks to

Talia Radford founder of the taliaYstudio designstudio Mag. Barry Hewson senior associate professor, education researcher, graphicdesigner Mag. Witmann Konrad senior house manager of the HARMONIE Andreas Bene nurse director and for his nurse team from the senior house HARMONIE Residences from the senior house HARMONIE Imola Bene nurse from the senior house HARMONIE Dr. Kathrina Dankl MSc. founder of the DANKLHAMPEL designstudio Michael Lanner founder of the Vollpension and from the GebrĂźder Stitch Norbert Gallei manager, and for his driver team from JUGENDAMWERK Wien HochstraĂ&#x;e Brigitte Szeitz director of the nursing service, Helmut Zilk house, Vienna Andreas Vevera gold medalist at Table tennis at the 2008 Summer Paralympics Max Gfafferhofer Austrian professional monoski driver Carina Schwed graphic designer Hedwig Schwed Lena Goldsteiner designer at taliaYstudio Lena Scholz Austrian Red Cross emergency medical assistant

Human immobility


6 1


11–25 2

moving in space

27–39 3


51–61 4

object culture

63–77 5


79–85 appendix


Introduction Human Immobility anecdotes from a field research In the spring of 2013 we were approached by a wonderful Croatian start-up to design their second product which should be introduced into the market in 2014. The start-up, which developed a technology to help people with severe immobility live more independently, has been gaining rapid interest from investors due to the social business which drives its economics, understood the value design can offer in creating meaningful products and so help their market entrance. Our studio puts a great deal of emphasis on “people” research, since we understand that the more we delve into the our target user group, the more we can empathize with their understanding of the world around them, the relationship they have with objects, the daily rituals... in end effect we can add more dimension to our target group ultimately understanding them as human beings as opposed to simply seperating “them” from “us”, the designers. We designers work to create better lives, so we want to understand as well as we can which lives we are trying to make better, and how. This type of research helps us to identify common themes, trends and needs which subsequently inform our ideation and design process and so create more meaningful products. Zalán Szakács interned the same summer at our studio. His assignment was to conduct a broad field of

research on the theme of Human Immobility, and this book is a collection of anecdotes that came from informal conversations, observations and conclusions with people mostly in and around Vienna who deal on a daily basis with varying degrees of this issue – either they are mobility-impaired through their age, illness or accidents, or they work with and support people of this disposition. The book will help our studio in our ongoing research for our Croatian connection, as well as himself in his own path as a designer and hopefully others working in this area, too. Zalán actually missed his first week at the studio because he himself was bedridden – he´d been involved in a car accident in which luckily the only damage was to his foot which had to be put in a cast. Talk about the irony of hands-on-research. I hope you enjoy this little collection of stories arranged in a number of sub-categories which include communication, sex and death. Please excuse any grammatical faults, since Zalán himself is not a native speaker in English and we think he did a great job at translating the often hard dialect his subjects spoke! Talia Radford taliaYstudio Vienna, the 27th of August 2013





communication Introduction

The swearword „behidert“ is real popular used by younger Austrian generation.

Communication connects us human beings. Without it we will not exist, but how would our Western civilised society change, if a better dialogue will happen between old and young? The founder of the Viennese “Vollpension” senior coffee house for younger people will share his experiences about this unique project. For this chapter I researched and experienced the trust and the generation problems in Vienna. Our society within the younger generation should change his opinion about human immobile people, develop a deeper understanding for them and delete from their daily talk vocabulary the German swearword “behindert” (in English spastic). I believe that in further future a better understanding will be perceptible for disabled people in our society.


1 communication Stories

“One day it happened that one of our nurses told in standard German language to a senior resident: Aufstehen, bitte! (in English please stand up) But the old senior did not reacted, just looked into the eyes of the nurse and was lying in his bed, as he did not understand it. The nurse tried again, but with no chance. After some unsuccessful tries, he became angry and said him the similar sentence in his Burgenland dialect, where he came from: Beweg dein irsch ind he! (in English Move your ass, away!) And suddenly the old resident stand up. With this story I wanted to tell you, if old people get older and older than they fall back into their childhood languages and dialects.” 55 years old senior house manager “All my lifetime long I was surrounded by pupils and young people. Do you know I was a primary school teacher and this filled my soul with young-fully power. Do you know that the lousiest child could be as crummy as his parents are. At the beginning I was shocked by the old people, here at the senior house. I miss so much the young people.” 90 years old senior teacher from Vienna


The region of Burgenland is situating in the east of the Austria.

1 communication Stories

I can understand that some elderly people living in Senior houses did not trust foreign young visitors referring me. Before I started my questions for the interview for this publication, she told me directly the following sentence: “I hope that you can understand my situation as an poor senior, I tell you I am not going buy anything from you.” During the 15 minutes interview the old lady asked me more than five times, if I am businessman or I want to sell her some Teleshopping products. The peak of the trust was reached as I had to go to the toilette during the end of the interview and the doubtfully old lady take advantage of my absence, asking my interview assistant to swore to her family that I am not a salesperson. 90 years old senior housewife “My biggest wish is that the people on the street should become more friendly to visually impaired people!” 57 years old visually impaired hand worker


Viennese people are famouse about their wrathfullness.

Welcome to Vienna

1 communication Stories

During this research project I tried to get connected with elderly people on the streets and parks of Vienna. It was already hard for me to formulate my request in a compact sentence, because a lot of seniors are scared of talking with foreign people on the street. I started my interview in the Viennese park called Esterházy with an old lady sitting on a bench and reading newspaper. After I asked her, if she has a few minutes for me, she just looked me and said with a sad voice: “Sorry, but I have other troubles now. I hope you can understand me.” I went on and tried my second chance with a senior couple, saying them my same question, but the husband did not allowed me even to finish my sentences and grumbled with his Viennese dialect: “Na, echt ned! Zisch o, du trottl. Heast mi ned!!!” (in English: No, sorry. Go away you idiot. Don´t you hear me!!!) His wife just looked at me and wanted to say something to me, but her husband interrupt her as well: “Wos redst ean o?!” (in English: Why you talk with him?!) I felt so much aggression in the air that I had to leave the park and a long thinking process started about my communication methods to elderly people, my dress code and even I thought to borrow a sweet dog and try to use this as a starting point for the talk. After I got an idea that talking in train is an better method


Esterházy park is situated in the 6th district of Vienna.


1 communication Stories

as in the parks or in the streets. And my thought was right! On the way home in the train I sat next to an senior lady and started with her a great discussion. My conclusion from the interviews is that some elderly people try to avoid talks with foreign young people in public spaces and it shows the generation and understanding problems between young and old people. “For a lot of seniors communication is a big problem. A lot of seniors have no possibilities to talk to people, if they get a chance they never stop talking. They talk, talk and talk!� 65 years old lady in train


1 communication Stories

“The “Vollpension” project started from a personal motivation, because I grow up in a big family and, when I was 15 years old I moved to the capital Vienna, so I lost the contact to elderly people. The idea came up by the fact that the best cake is baked by the granny and not by the restaurant, so the “Vollpension” was born, a coffee house, where seniors bakes cakes, make coffee and tell their life experiences, stories to younger people. I wanted to create a space for communication and dialogue between old and young people. This project is build up on the typical granny clichés from the 60´s with the interior design, music and atmosphere to be able to break out of the stereotype senior image. It should progress to the younger public as well for the media the different senior characters from the typical granny till the hacker grandfather. The first temporary granny coffee house was organized during the Vienna Design Week in 2012, with a big success from the site of the younger visitors, participant cake and coffee maker grandmothers and grandfathers. It was an extreme cool atmosphere, because you felt the presence and the passion of the seniors, how they bake the cake, slide it and prepare coffee. “Vollpension” was visited by 200 people and two editions where hold during the Christmas and now during the European Forum in Altbach, Salzburger Land. This project should open a discussion in the media


1 communication Stories

about the positive site of being a senior, and not only the bad elements, because elderly people collected so much knowledge and experiences during their lifetime and to share this with younger people is a good chance for them.� Michael Lanner, founder of the Vollpension and of Gebrßder Stitch


2 moving in space


moving in space Introduction

As a physically impaired person travelling in urban environment is a big challenge, but sometimes the way to the toilette shows difficulties. U-Bahn, is called the Viennese underground.

People sitting in wheelchairs, walking with walking frames or crunches and white canes percipience the surrounding different than us and they have to focus on details while travelling in the city by the public transport. In the info-graphics, which are based on observations in the Viennese underground I will try to demonstrate the different routes. This chapter focusses as well on the daily routines of the elderly people living in senior houses.


2 moving in space Stories

“He is Blix, my dog. My lovely 50 years old son surprised me with him 3 years ago. Since them I share my senior life with him. The name came from the German word Blitz (in English flash), because he is so small, but so brisk. I am really happy to have him, because it gives me a daily rhythm: I woke up at 6 am, at 7 am I go for a walk with him, before the lunch I walk with him again and as well in the evening a half and hour. Is true Blix?” 90 years old senior woman “Till I can see, hear and think good I am very happy. Sometimes the walk hurts, but I can deal with it. I tell you the most important point: to do things by yourself.” 87 years old senior shop assistant



2 moving in space Stories

“Last year I had an hip replacement and I got from the doctors strong medicaments. It was a hard time for me in the hospital. As I came back here in the senior house I got depressions. Isolation is such an frightfully thing here! Do you know my wish? If I could go outside once in 14 days. We all are the same poor devils!” 90 years old senior housewife “One day I was travelling with my daughter in the tram. She was still a young girl sitting on me. Suddenly she touched with her small feet the leg of the women sitting in front of us. The Viennese woman got angry and said to me: „At Hitlers time would she not exist!“ I got really angry and at the next stop I stepped out of the tram with Maria.” Mother of an down syndrome daughter


2 moving in space Stories

“My opinion as an emergency medical assistant is that to judge and understand what is “normal” for human immobile or for elderly people is very difficult.For example an immobile person gets an apoplexy with crippling, it is very hard to rate in which stadium it is. At the Alzheimerstation in Breitenfurt are a lot of patiences, whose can not speak or move only lay in the bed. Based on this experience I would say that, we should be very happy about the fact that life gives us so much and we have to take care for the healthy of our body. “ 18 years old Austrian Red Cross emergency medical assistant

„I hate travelling in the city. All the people are so arrogant. Specially the people from Vienna. Horrible! But the tactile paving is a great solution for us visually impared persons. I was walking with my blind stock in the underground station following the tactile paving. Suddenly I feelt a shoe of an passanger. I still can remember what he said to me: Open your eyes, man!!!” 56 years old blind person


Breitenfurt is a village close to Vienna.

2 moving in space Stories I was very excited to make this interview with the drivers of the Viennese JugenAmWerk organisation from the Hochstraße section. The overall objective of JaW and its limited liability companies is to ensure that disadvantaged individuals can lead independent, fulfilling lives without dependence on others. Transporting mentally and physically people from homes to the JugenAmWerk daily workshops needs a lot of concentration, calmness and empathy. As the drivers mentioned, the traffic situation, where you can stop and help to the client to step in or step out /drive in or drive out from the car is one of the most important rules to think about it. It happens often, when the drivers have to change to driving direction to be able to stop the transport vans on the pavement site to guarantee a safety stepping/driving out. Knowing and appraising the driving clients. As a driver at the JugendamWerk it is very important to know and appraise the clients exactly to be ready for all situations, which could happen during the drive. One driver told the following story: “I was driving with one client on a highway and suddenly he opened the door. What are you doing at that situation as a driver? First I have to find a place, where I can stop and after that I have to calm down the client. Behind their own ego the world is not existing. If they want to step out they try all the methods. As a driver you have to be prepared for this extreme situations as well.” On other told me his experience: “At first I as a driver I have to concentrate on the road


2 moving in space Stories

and secondarily on my clients, what is happening in the van, sometimes they try to push you till the limits, while playing with you games. So I as a driver I have to respond on every client individually, otherwise chaotic situations could happen, which I would like to avoid. The mood of the people is also very different: in the morning they rarely never talk, but in the afternoon they are full of energy, and this makes the drive more difficult, so in these situations as a driver I have to stay calm and cool. For some clients you have to calculate extra time for picking them up, because they play with you hide-and-seek and you have to find them.� During the interview they shared with me the following story as well: “Some clients are basely to each for other. For example one client found out that the other one is very sensitive for a special finger movement, so he always plays this game with her, and from that moment on the situations with her escalates dramatically. The other clients react as well on the situations. And that makes everything much more difficult! For a lot of our clients the basically behaviour patterns does not exist. Only the pure human being is available, without a mask, without anything. A good example for it is, when somebody is talking they are not quiet and listen to the person, they just go on with the talking.� This great talk showed me, how difficult and special this job is and how much energy and concentration the drivers need everyday to fulfil the wishes their clients and guarantee a safety drive.


the way with a wheelchair from the entrace till the underground

Drive to the underground

Look for wheelchair place in the underground Drive into the underground

Take the elavator or the escalator

Look for the right direction

Drive carefully through the people and wait till the underground arrives

the way with a walking frame from the entrace till the underground

Walk to the underground

Please stop your walking frame in the opposite site of the train direction and do not sit on it

Ask for a free seat Step into the underground

Take the elevator

Look for the right direction

Walk carefully through the people and wait till the underground arrives

the way with a cane from the entrace till the underground

Walk to the underground

Ask for a free seat Step into the underground

Take the elavator, escalator or the steps

Look for the right direction

Walk through the people and wait till the underground arrives

the way as a visually impaired person from the entrace till the underground

Walk to the underground, while following the tactile warning strip

You can choose if you want to sit or stay in the underground Ask for a free seat Step into the underground

Take the elavator, escalator or the steps, you can ask for help

Ask somebody for the right direction

Walk through the people and wait till the underground arrives

the way as a normal person from the entrace till the underground

Walk to the underground

You can choose if you want to sit or stay in the underground

Step into the underground

Take the elavator, escalator or the steps

Look for the direction

Walk through the people and wait till the underground arrives

3 leisure


leisure Introduction

Everybody needs leisure time, but if we think about the leisure activities of seniors we imagine card playing grandmothers, but in this chapter I collected different stories, whose break the stereotype image. For this chapter I interviewed visually impaired basket weaver, news lover seniors and the Austrian professional monoski driver Max Gfafferhofer, who talked about his personal enrichment and motivation from sports as a wheelchair driver.


My best friend, the television

3 leisure Stories

“I love news. And I am always so existed about them. I am so curious when is coming the royal baby!” 92 years old senior actress lady “Usually I spend time alone. I don´t like to talk to much with the other seniors. Everybody I just talking about the birth of the royal baby. I get so bored about it!” 90 years old senior resident “I spend my days with basket weaving. This is a beautiful handwork. I developed already a feeling for it and the colours are choose by a logical system: red is in the first box, above it is blue and on the top is yellow. In the past I was use to make small gift boxes from the cigarette packages, but since they print disgusting photographs (he is referring to the stop smoking - lung cancer campaign) on it, I stopped.” 57 years old visually impaired hand worker


This interview was taken before the birth of the British royal baby.


3 leisure Stories

“In 2007 I had the Moto Cross accident as a KTM driver at that time. The therapy took more than one and half years, but at that time I do not wanted to do sports, because to realize my situation was really hard for me. But I am living in the middle of the mountains and half a year here is snow, so I decided to start skiing. At the beginning I drove ski as hobby driver, but after a while I started to participate at competitions, where I became one of the best drivers. One trainer there asked me, if I would like to train as a professional ski driver. From that moment on started my professional mono ski carrier: from year to year I became better and better with my technique. It makes so much fun for me, because the most important part it is that as a wheelchair driver, I can be so free in the winter. Driving down every mountain and ski piste as well in the deep snow. With the wheelchair you can not drive everywhere, but with the skis yes! Ski and other sport activities for the wheelchair drivers gives so much freedom and it is such an enrichment for the daily life!� 22 year old Austria profi sport monoski driver Max Gfafferhofer


KTM is an Austrian Motor and Automobile building company.

this old lady translated my name into the Braille type

3 leisure Stories I will never forget the meeting with the senior actress and dance lady from the senior house. She was lying in her bad, because of an knee accident, physically impaired, but her soul was so fresh as a teenager girl and her memory was so clear. She was talking about her translator job at the Viennese Turkish consulate, translating German poems from Goethe into Turkish. And suddenly she recited it with fully emphasis and her eyes looked into the public of a theatre of her imagination. 92 years old senior actress lady Actually nr. 1 of the world in table tennis, Andreas Vevera is one of the most successful wheelchair table tennis players in the world and gold medallist at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Peking. His self motivation and drive to win, never give up fascinates generations of table tennis players all around the world as well his motivation sentence: “I had a great carrier, everything what is following is a beautiful benefit. One medallion in the end of my carrier would be beautiful. Gold is an other dream!â€? After a teenager holiday accident Andreas became paraplegic and during his rehabilitation time at the WeiĂ&#x;er Hof in Klosterneuburg he discovered his talent and passion for table tennis. I would like to underline the important fact, what Andreas often is his interviews mansions about wheelchair table tennis, that normal persons could play versus immobile players, and this supports the integration of the immobile people in our society. Andreas Vevera, Gold medalist at Table tennis at the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Table tennis world ranking nr.1


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a famouse German poet in the 18th century.


3 leisure Stories

Asking a nurse about the sexual behaviour of the residences in a senior house is a tabu and a sensitive topic. Living in a senior house does not mean that seniors do not self-gratificate, they do but with different techniques and methods. I was surprised during she was talking about this topic referring to one of my interviewed persons, whose sex fluffy puppet was hanging on the wall at the eye level of me during interview. The most surprising thing is that I did not recognize it... “My mother in law, she is 89 years old told me that she does not want to go with other seniors on holiday travels, because everybody is talking about their illnesses and pains and this for her absolutely boring.� 65 years old lady in train


4 object culture


object culture Introduction

In this chapter I tried to collect different anecdotes, memories and stories about the relationship and interaction between elderly users and products. If the people get older and older they develop a special understanding for products, which surround them, and this also tells something about the life and the character of the user.


4 object culture Stories

“My personal passion and motivation for projects exploring contemporary ageing came for a search for a walking cane for a mother of a friend of mine and we were surprised about the fact that we could not find one, which accorded to our ergonomically and aesthetically perception. So we decided to create a new walking cane called Canella. My second motivation was my curiosity about positive characteristics of getting older and how it changes through the years the product social environment of the elderly people. For my doctoral thesis “Very Experienced People: An Ethnography of Design, Ageing and Style” I researched with help of ethnographic fieldwork, style biographies and photo narratives the lifespan of 15 Viennese seniors two years long, exploring the interiors of a senior residences as the essence of one´s style, a focused representation of one´s life course. How does the personal taste changes through the years? With help of my ethnographic research work I found


4 object culture Stories

out that the life experiences, the relationships to family and friends, and the personal taste is developing into a higher level. I think that in the future the society will accept more the elderly people on the streets, and we will see more walking frames as well. An other chance will happen in the working world, where the teamwork between young and old will play an important role for exchanging experiences and knowledges. “ Dr. Kathrina Dankl MSc. Founder of the DANKLHAMPEL designstudio


4 object culture Stories

“During my senior time in Vienna I was use to listen to audio books daily. But since the doctor said that I have impaired balances I have to walk and move a lot and I don´t have time for the audio books.” 91 years old senior lady “I love this “Easy Life” product. You can open with it everything. Do you know that this is made extra for seniors, people like me. Try it!” 90 years old senior teacher from Vienna Visiting a residence room of a visually impaired person was a completely new feeling for me, observing his room, his furnitures and objects, what he can not see, and trying to understand his life spending in this room. He was talking about his necessary tools, those have their special place in his room and he gets worried, if the cleaning lady puts them somewhere else. 57 years old visually impaired hand worker


4 object culture Stories

“Look at my talking hand watch. Wait a while and listen: It is 4 o´clock and 5 minutes, the digital voice from the clock said. Is this not brilliant? I have also a talking table clock and a key chains. But I am getting sad by the fact that the companies start to build up the productions for these products, because we blind persons are not profitable. And what you can find on the market is too expensive. I wish I could buy a talking device, which can say to me the colours.” 57 years old visually impaired hand worker


A love story

4 object culture Stories

“Do you know Felix? He is my partner since 3 years. Slowly through time I got equilibrium disorders and he helps 24 hours every day. He is a brilliant partner! The man, who invented it was a genious. I love my walking frame, Felix!” 95 years old senior woman “I hate walking frames, because the seniors forget them somewhere in the elderly house and I always hit my legs bloody with them. The front of them is very sharp. This walking frames are so terrible!” 57 years old visually impaired hand worker

I was so existed to talk with a street musician from the Septemberplein. He was sitting on a small chair playing violin all day long, and his only wish was to play music and earn money. The old violinist tried to escape from the real world with help of his talent and realize his dreams to help his poor family living in Hungary. 78 years old violinist


Septemberplein is a famouse place in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Excursion to Homo Sapiens Pensionorus

4 object culture Stories

“28 years ago during my nurse education, we had an excursion to an senior home and what I have seen there, I was shocked! I will never forget that moment! Elderly people were in cribs as monkeys in cages and the safe-keeping was more worse than from the animals. This special beds were used to avoid the elopement of them. At that moment I decided to modify this! As I started here at the Helmut Zilk senior house my carrier, we had them as well, but we chanced the system and nowadays we support for our residences the mobility and try to bring the surrounding into the elderly home, for example kindergarden groups are visting us or the seniors work together with the Viennese adult education centre. So different generations profit from each other.� Brigitte Szeitz, director of the nursing service, Helmut Zilk house, Vienna


Helmut Zilk senior house is situated in the 23th district of Vienna.

5 death


death When does the time come to think about death? What should I chance in my life, if I know that I have only five years left? I use a quote from the German Professor Werner Burgheim: “Thinking about death, does mean that we should start to frame our life. We are artists of our life.� Thinking about it shows his difficulties for every person, and it is a penetrative study. We human beings have to learn, how to deal with our life and its end to defence our fears.



5 death Stories

“Do you know it that I have been working for the Austrian Red Cross a long time ago. This job was volunteer and at that time a saw a lot of blood as well and I got familiar with the fact of the death. Since them I not afraid and prepared for it.” 90 years old senior woman “From day to day I see less and less. I am very afraid if a get a hearth attack or an apoplexy, what is going to happen, because the nurses come only 2 times a day to deliver lunch for me. I am afraid of the death!” 93 years old senior woman “I have only one wish, to be able to see better. But I know that this is not going to happen...” 90 years old senior resident woman from Vienna



5 death Stories

“ I believe that 80 years are enough!” 90 years old senior housewife “I just wish a little death, because I had fulfilled life as an paraplegic on the front of the “Jehovah‘s Witnesses“, sitting in the wheelchair 68 years long. With my life I completed the Bible!” 87 years old paraplegic senior man



Being free and driving to Berlin in the begin of the summer is a brilliant feeling, because I just finished my first university year. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and in just two hours we will arrive to the city of the freedom. Such a great start to summer! After a few hours later I felt the hot plaster getting harder and harder on my foot. The nurse said in Berlin dialect that I should hold my foot straight. The pain was terrible and the view to my foot worse. All my motivation and dreams about a great start into the summer was gone, and it happened in quarter of seconds as the car driver unintentionally drove with the car wheel over my right leg foot. At the second I did not wanted to recognise the reality, I wished it was a nightmare and soon in can wake up, but regrettably it was true. The irony of my accident is being immobile and wearing a plaster foot I was asked to start this research about human immobility, so I had from the beginning on an empathy for this unique topic. Zalรกn Szakรกcs



Human Immobility anecdotes from a field research

Edited and produced by taliaYstudio, 2013 Illustration credits Zalรกn Szakรกcs Graphic design Carina Schwed and Zalรกn Szakรกcs


Human Immobility - anecdotes from the field  

This book is a collection of anecdotes that came from informal conversations, observations and conclusions with people mostly in and around...

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