As an architect who designs spaces for healthcare, who’s married to an engineer who designs medical devices ranging from Bluetooth enabled health gadgets to life saving portable devices, attending the opening of Design Museum Boston’s latest exhibit, Bespoke Bodies: the Design and Craft of Prosthetics, made for the perfect recent date night. Even if you don’t regularly nerd out over clever and well-designed gadgets or the latest in healthcare technology advances, you will still likely find something to amaze, awe and inspire you at Bespoke Bodies.
I was impressed by the wide range of perspectives that the exhibit explored; from the history of prosthetics, including some neat historic pieces, to athletes working with designers and engineers to optimize performance, to highly detailed craft of ocular and facial prostheses. The section of the exhibit that struck me as the most interesting featured prosthetics projects that engage artists with end users and engineers to explore the aesthetics of prosthetics. These projects go beyond trying to normalize artificial limbs or other body parts to celebrate and express the individuals who rely on them every day.
When designing spaces for healthcare, architects constantly work to balance the technical needs of our program type – infection control, equipment clearances, integration of ever-innovating medical technology – with human needs and desires for places of calm, respite, and healing. As designers we aspire to find architectural solutions that go beyond solving challenging programmatic and spatial puzzles but also achieve elegant architectural spaces that serve human needs. In a similar way, the individuals and designers featured in Bespoke Bodies are seeking to elevate the needs of each of their patients to celebrate the multi-facets of their unique individuality.
Bespoke Bodies: The Design and Craft of Prosthetics is free and open to the public until August 23 located in the Back Bay Arcade of the Prudential Center on 101 Huntington Ave.