Do you have certain comforts that help you feel better when you’re unwell?
In preparation for the Danish Via Design School’s annual exhibit, furniture design student Lise Vester invented Pallium; a line of tactile products featuring sound and softness for hospice care patients. This year’s school show featured the theme Remedy Rush, with students showcasing designs meant to improve the quality of daily life.
For Vester, her time spent in hospitals and hospice care centers looking after family directed her to designing products aimed at enhancing the lives of hospice patients. She designed heavy-weighted pillows, along with a sound pillow that goes beyond the sterile designs of health care items available on the market. After being featured in Milan Design Week 2017, Pallium has since been exhibited at the Trends and Traditions exhibit in Copenhagen.
In this feature, we sat down with Lise Vester, as she tells us about her inspiring journey with Pallium. She shares with us her design inspirations, the challenges she encountered along the way, as well as future plans for the range.
Tell me about yourself! What’s your design background and philosophy?
I was born in 1991 near the Danish Limfjord. I have always loved beautiful and interesting surroundings, to be creative and curious. It was at Krabbesholm boarding school that I started studying design. It was a half-year of study, where people also studied architecture, art, graphic design and photography. It was a nice environment to get involved, because people shared the passion for design and their creative minds.
Currently I am completing my PBA in Furniture Design at Via Design in Denmark. All my work is part of my design portfolio, and is not in production, yet. I think it is a gift to design. It is an opportunity to create inventive products that can improve everyday life, shape our physical world and well being. I always strive to be open minded and intuitive, to come up with great ideas and original design solutions. I believe that beautiful and functional surroundings make us happier.
How did you get into designing Pallium?
Pallium is made for an exhibition at Milan Design Week 2017 with my school Via Design and classmates. We wanted to design products with a higher purpose and value for people who have some kind of disability. The exhibition was called Remedy Rush. The purpose was to create nice, aesthetic, homelike products, which do not look like cold and sterile aid items. Design should be for everyone.
My inspiration derives from personal experience with family I have lost. I have spent a lot of time in hospitals, elderly homes and at the Ankerfjord Hospice. So, the atmosphere in a hospice and the hospice philosophies have made a very deep impact on me. It was such a warm, beautiful and welcoming place, with the best care from lovely employees. Because of this, I had the desire to create a product – in the spirit of palliation and hospice mentality – that can improve life quality for bedridden patients who deserve the absolute best.
Pallium is Greek for palliation and is all about giving the patient the best care and life quality until the end. Pallium means “blanket” and is a metaphor for covering the patient in care. The tactile line of products gives comfort and the feeling of safety and therapy for the patient lying in bed. The line is a combination of two heavy adjustable pillows and a sound pillow. Music has always been a big part of my life. In high school and at Skive Music College, I studied music and played guitar. When I found out that the hearing sense is the very last sense we have, it was very clear to me that I had to create a product, which could be used for music therapy for dying patients.
What’s your favourite part about creating Pallium?
I really enjoyed the whole process of making Pallium, because I got in touch with so many skilled people. The people who helped me were Ankerfjord Hospice’s music therapist and physiotherapist, an acknowledged sound designer and the skilled suppliers and sponsors of my product, Gabriel, BPI and Hans Skipper Møbler A/S. My favorite part is that the whole existence of the product is made in collaboration with experts within their area, to offer the best quality to the patients and to fulfill the high demands within health care and aid products for hospices.
What challenges did you encounter in developing Pallium?
It was a challenge to find the right form and materials for the product – to make it functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. It had to have very good sound quality, be comfortable and soft – and to cover the patient’s needs, while still being suitable for use in health care. There is a reason why health care products look sterile and sad, because it makes them very practical. Therefore, it was a difficult task to make a product which was both practical and had a good aesthetic for humans at the same time, without looking like a product for sick people.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is always different for each project. What inspires me is, how people come up with inventive and cool ideas, that somehow breaks our preconceived ideas of how a product should look like, how it functions and why. So I think it is really cool, if a product has some kind of a twist or is better somehow. It is not easy to invent something totally new, but I enjoy following the evolution.
What are your plans for Pallium in the future?
At Milan Design Week, I got some really great responses from visitors who tried Pallium. The Danish Minister of Culture visited our exhibition Remedy Rush and The Danish Arts Foundation gave our class a prize for the exhibition. As far as it goes for Pallium, it was exhibited at Trends & Traditions in Copenhagen at Lokomotivværkstedet last April, and this August it will be exhibited in Formland in Herning, Denmark. The feedback was really good at Milan, and people were really surprised that there was such a high quality of sound, when carrying the pillow on your shoulder. People felt calm and isolated with the nice music.
From all this, it is not hard to conclude that it is an area of products which need more attention, and probably not just in Denmark. Therefore, I would love to further develop Pallium and someday get it in production. It is a project which means a lot to me, and it is also important to me to make people more aware and open to talking about life quality till the end. I do not think this will be the last “aid” product, which I will design. But right now Pallium and I are looking forward to our third exhibition this August in Denmark.
What are you currently working on?
Right know, I am working as a design intern at a Danish furniture brand called &tradition, based in Copenhagen, where I am learning about real life as a designer, and how to work in collaboration with a design company.
Which is your favorite design item?
Although I study furniture design, I have also designed lighting, accessories, cutlery – and a sound pillow. And when you look at my design portfolio, it is very clear that I have designed a lot of lamps. I guess it must be my favorite item, then! What I really love about lighting is that it affects how people live and how we experience a room. It improves our mental state – and makes us get up in the morning. I always like to challenge myself and to try something new, so maybe my next design will be a series of furniture, which I will design for my bachelor’s degree this year.
What’s your personal style in home design?
I really love to surround myself with stuff that has some kind of value to me. When I was a child, I collected weird stuff, and I also enjoyed old pieces of furniture and products. Therefore, my home is a bit imprinted with this old obsession and is styled with items from thrift shops, products I have inherited and small items that remind me of a concert, my parents’ home or a vacation somewhere. Tactility and plants are important for that homelike feeling. I also have products, which I designed myself, like my big blue armrest chair and some lamps and prototypes.
Many thanks to Lise Vester for sharing some of her thoughts and designs relating to palliative care, and how design can shape health.
Did you enjoy this feature? Tell us what you think in the comments below. We’re always inspired to see stories of design for improving lives for everyone. If you want to find out more about Lise Vester, you can check out her website here. We’ve also recently written about the Tapestry Couch project designed by Australian refugees, you can check out our interview with Tasman Munro, who faciliated the Tapestry Couch project.
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Designer: Lise Vester
Photos: Lise Vester
*This interview has been edited for clarity and length