Program

Bespoke Bodies

The Design & Craft of Prosthetics

As prostheses gain in functionality, they also become more complex. Design plays a critical role in humanizing technology, allowing users to integrate devices into their lives.

Bespoke Bodies is a major, traveling exhibition program exploring the relationship between craft, design, material, and the human body through tactile objects, case studies, user stories, design process, historical references, and future concepts. The exhibition considers traditional artificial limbs as well as the broad range of physical, aesthetic, and cognitive human enhancements. Advancements in medicine, robotics, sensors, 3D-printing, and more have transformed what’s possible for people living with limb loss and limb difference.

The exhibition surveys the past, present, and future of prosthetic design including passive, body-powered, electric, and biomechanical devices — along with advances in regeneration, transplant, and implant procedures. We’ve partnered with thought leaders and organizations driving prosthetic innovation for veterans returning from conflict, athletes, and everyday users.

 

Bespoke Bodies is available for touring. Interested in bringing this exhibition to your community? Contact us

2.1 million

People living with limb loss in the U.S.

Causes
54% Vascular Disease & Diabetes
44% Trauma
2% Cancer

Types
65% Lower Limb
35% Upper Limb

44% of Upper Limb Amputees reject their prostheses

Supported By

There’s something for everyone in Bespoke Bodies, great technical information, aesthetic content, design process; a wonderful exhibit.”

— Michael DiTullo Founder & Chief Designer, Michael DiTullo

This show is deeply inspirational. For those of us coping with limb loss, it makes me feel less alone and more remembered.”

— Anonymous Exhibition Visitor

I’ve never seen a collection like this before—the history of prosthetics timeline alone is an amazing resource. The personal and design stories in the exhibit are so astounding.”

— Wilson Smith, Design Director, Nike Footwear and University of Oregon Professor of Adaptive Design

To develop this exhibition, our team first formed a committee of advisors in the field made up of people who use and create prostheses; including amputees, limb difference advocates, clinicians, designers, educators, and more. This group of advisors helped us form partnerships and invite individuals, designers, organizations, and more to get involved to share their stories about the impact of prosthetic design.

One of the things we sought out the most were stories about the collaborative process of design; people with limb loss, congenital limb difference, maxillofacial disability, and mobility impairment, who become part of their own design process. Paralympic athletes working with designers to find innovative techniques and solutions in design. Kids collaborating with industrial designers to create their own expressive devices, sometimes even featuring legos! Organizations like D-rev who focus on developing affordable prosthetic solutions for those without access to advanced prosthetic devices.

These stories show that the more voices, collaborators, and people who use prostheses that are part of the creation process, the better the design.

Bespoke Bodies is a free, public exhibition that aims to contribute to broadening larger conversations and shared resources around disability. The show recognizes that choosing to wear or use a prosthetic device is one of the many methods and options around ambulation, physical activity, and appearance for people with disabilities.

 

Partners, Consultants, and Resources

Throughout our exhibition development process, our curators attended lectures, conferences, clinical visits, and amputee advocacy events. Through collaborating with individuals with limb difference and disabilities,  we were able to learn straight from people who use and benefit from prosthetic design in order to tell their stories through this exhibit.

Along with directly collaborating with and crafting content for the exhibition with the people behind the stories themselves, our team met with and spoke with clinicians, prosthetists, amputees, and other allies in the community in order to gain new perspectives and expand our resources and knowledge in the field.

Here are some of the organizations and resources we met and continue to consult with for our programming:

Special Thanks to our Founding Advisors:

  • Tara Anderson, Product Manager, HP
  • Kate Aquillano, Social Media Manager, USO
  • Adam Arabian, Assoc. Professor of Engineering, Seattle Pacific University
  • Andreas Bastian, Principal Research Scientist, Autodesk & Board Chair, LimbForge
  • Maggie Baumer, Clinic Manager, Hanger Clinic
  • Kaylee Dougherty, Assoc. Ocularist & Anaplastologist, Boston Ocular Prosthetics
  • Betsy Goodrich, Vice President of Design & Co-founder, MANTA
  • Braden Leonard, Founder, Hand Made Prosthetics
  • Shalom Ormsby, Founder, The Luke Hand
  • Micah Reyes, Design Engineer, Outradius Design
  • Rodrigo Salazar, MSc. Rehabilitación Bucomaxilofacial, lUNIP & Mais Identidade
  • Lauren Scruggs, Founder, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy Foundation
  • Wilson Smith, Design Director, Nike & Professor of Adaptive Design, University of Oregon
  • Paul Sohi, Product Designer, Autodesk
  • Kevin Young, Senior Vice President Product Experience, Continuum

Wafa Lavelle, and her prosthetist Jayne Drummey, CPO. “Jayne made me a leg that helped to fully restore my mobility, strength, well-being, and most importantly, my confidence in navigating life every day.”

Steve Woolfenden and his prosthetist at Hanger Clinic, Brian Heckathorn, gave our team a look into their strong bond and open communication while discussing Steve’s socket fit and comfort in his residual limb. Photo taken at Hanger Clinic, South Easton MA

Kaylee Dougherty from Boston Ocular Prosthetics and her patient, Elby, explain Elby’s process for wearing, cleaning, and removing his ocular prosthesis to our curators.