I do not personally know any amputee but I once interviewed Alex Zanardi, the famous race driver who lost both his legs in an accident, and yet went back to racing after having won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics. From speaking with him I understood that the biggest issue is that of comfort and that comfort depends upon aesthetic as well as physical aspects.
UNYQ, a studio based in San Francisco, California, and Seville, Spain, is focusing on the former by creating custom 3D printed designer fairings and accessories to wrap around prosthetic legs, to give them a very personal and elegant style and appearance. Basically they want to make prostheses truly unique and personal.
The company’s e-commerce website launched with 30 limited edition collections to choose from, starting at $995 for children or you can design your own. The fully tailor made fairing costs $2000 but will give you control over every aspect of the shape and decoration choice and process. After placing the order you will be contacted by a UNYQ specialist who will explain how to share personal sizing information.
All UNYQ prostheses are symmetrical and a perfect match to the sound leg, which means clothes will fit better. The price can be contained by using 3D printing technologies to manufacture them and by using direct online sale channels to retail them. Another option is to enter a contest to win a free fairing. Just sign up for UNYQ’s newsletter or link to their Twitter and Facebook account.
“We design for the whole person and address their wants and needs as opposed to simply appending technical functionality,” explained Eythor Bender, UNYQ’s co-founder and CEO. “Amputees don’t have to make fashion compromises anymore, and we can scale our craftsmanship without depending on individual skills to deliver consistently high end design that is beautifully made and to each customer’s specifications.”
The day where a prosthetic leg will be equal or even better than a natural one is still far, but it is getting closer. Getting it to look good, at an affordable price, may seem like a small accomplishment compared with improving its functionality but when you have to wear something constantly, as you would a part of your body, you should be able to appreciate what you are looking at in the mirror. And cyborgs – from Blade Runner on down to Deus Ex – do look cool.