We recently caught up with Scott Summit, the industrial designer behind San-Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations, at AU 2010, where he was one of the keynote speakers. Bespoke Innovations has a clear mission: Apply good industrial design and rapid prototyping techniques to make kick-ass prosthetics. They don't do off-the-shelf parts--they interview amputees, find out what makes them tick, and design some seriously cool custom limbs based on their interests and tastes.
Some amputees like Mid-Century Modern. Some like motorcycles. Some like leather or tattoos. Summit seems like the first industrial designer to realize that with today's manufacturing technologies, there's no reason an amputee should have to wear a cold and impersonal prosthetic designed by some engineer who's ordering parts out of a catalog and has never been to design school.
With about a million diabetic amputees in the U.S. alone, Summit and Bespoke have a huge market to address. And as they serve them, they're raising some very good issues about the product space that mass production should, and should not, occupy in the future. The production world is changing, and as you'll see in the interview below, Summit isn't just riding the wave--he's helping to create it.