“A stairlift is a product of necessity, not aspiration,” explains Pearson Lloyd, the London-based firm behind the new Flow X residential chairlift. Mobility aids are an often forgotten category when it comes to furniture and product design, and the stairlift has long been considered an undesirable and unattractive feature in the home. Though they have been manufactured commercially for the better part of a century, their technology has not progressed much beyond the original design — particularly in terms of elevating (pun intended) the lift’s aesthetic appeal. Working with mobility specialist Access BDD, Pearson Lloyd has developed an advanced stairlift that is as visually appealing as it is practical.
Known for their iconic products that marry form and function (such as Teknion’s Essa chair, a finalist for this year’s AZ Awards), the firm was inspired to reimagine the stairlift after coming across research suggesting that improved health outcomes for elders are tied to retaining independence as opposed to entering into care. With this in mind, Flow X was made to be comfortable, intuitive and easy to use without sacrificing aesthetics in the process.
The key to the sleek design was ensuring that the unattractive mechanical elements of the chair were kept out of sight. The understated yet inviting colours of the chair component, too, feature a bright white and marine blue that foregoes the typically grey-dominant colourways.
Suitable for inclines of up to 70 degrees, Flow X is conceived to fit onto the staircase instead of the wall, allowing for easy installation and minimal disruption. The curved product, therefore, is made to elegantly follow the shape of any vertical circulation path. Patented ASL (Advanced Swivel Levelling) technology ensures the seat and footrest rotate together, maintaining optimal distances between the chair and the staircase. This enables the user to get on and off without twisting their body.
For additional safety, the innovative armrests include a pre-programmed emergency call button and can be linked to a household or mobile phone. Three numbers can be programmed in so family, friends and care teams are quickly reachable if needed.
A unique folding mechanism (with automatic and manual options) at the heart of the design means that the chair takes up minimal space on the stairs when not in use. The open-access armrest position allows wheelchair users to smoothly transition to the lift while an adjustable seatbelt provides extra protection from falls on the ride (up or down).
For those with mobility issues, a stairlift can mean the difference between staying in their home or having to relocate. More attention paid to the ergonomic and formal qualities of these devices may not only increase their appeal but progressively challenge the stigmas attached to them, leading to an improved quality of life for an older, design-conscious generation by foregrounding autonomy and agency at any age or ability.
The British design studio’s innovative stairlift combines aesthetics with unwavering functionality.