Designers and manufacturers have dismissed or, at least, underestimated the emotional needs of people who are mobility challenged.

The opportunity

Some industries—such as technology and fashion—have begun marketing to and developing products for people who are mobility challenged. Products should have a strong emotional appeal that help people define who they are in the world. The existing assistive walking devices on the market have none of that.

Introducing Perch Italia, a new collection of high-end, beautifully crafted assistive walking products, designed to fit the needs and demands of design savvy, mobility challenged consumers.

The challenge

These devices should be a status symbol. How do we make a 'must-have' into a 'want-to-have'?

  • Create a new product language that is attractive, appealing, and empowering.
  • Begin with the least technological devices, walkers, crutches, canes, and make a visual statement in the marketplace.
  • Begin to set a new language and message.


Gen X is fundamentally different from past generations. This generation grew up with the strong influence of marketing, and having more expectations on the products they surround themselves with.

Today's assisted devices do not address the wants and needs of this generation. They have not utilized good design to empower people to heal, be mobile and be safe.

Many consumers try to solve the design vacuum on their own by using things like walking sticks over canes, adding tennis balls on walkers, or avoiding them altogether, putting themselves at great personal risk.

These days, injured athletes also want to show off their personal style in the arena tunnels, while arriving at the stadium before a game.

Many professional athletes who get injured throughout a season are still required to join their teammates on the bench. While injured athletes can accept needing to use traditional crutches or cranes, having a beautifully designed, fashionable cane would give that athlete a boost of confidence, knowing that they can still make a statement without being able to play.

How design can help

Many of today’s walkers and canes are designed purely for function and come with an intense stigma.

There’s no option on the market for mobility challenged people of any age to be able to express their style and personality through their walking device. On top of societal stigma, people with disabilities are dealing with the mental load of their disability.

Great design brings the best of function, utility, and quality. Offering different color and material options restores choice and personality back to the user, like picking a new piece of jewelry. Thoughtful product design retains the proper function and physicality of these devices, ensuring the device performs its actual job of helping physically support the user. All of this should come together to empower the user, give them confidence, and be proud to go out in the world as they are. These devices should be an extension of the sports devices and jewelry people love and already identify with. The design language should be familiar and empowering, not humiliating.

They should be so well designed they become a “want-to-have” instead of a “must-have”.

My experience

Jody Corcoran, Founder & Managing Director

At 55, I was suddenly disabled with a brain tumor, in a wheelchair, and then struggled walking unassisted. My physiotherapist brought me a myriad of devices, all that dreadful beige and not very functional.

They were spirit crushing and heartbreaking, at a time when keeping my spirit up was imperative. They were more harmful than helpful. I still long for a walking device I am not embarrassed by.