e-NABLE Displayed At Bespoke Bodies Gallery Exhibit

For the past few months, the amazing team at Design Museum Portland and the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) has been working hard to put together an incredible exhibition and educational program to showcase the past, present, and future of prosthetic design: Bespoke Bodies.

On Thursday, February 15th, 2018, I was invited to join the museum team and a few fellow e-NABLE Volunteers at the opening reception and share a little bit with the attendees about the global volunteer community and our efforts to create low cost and affordable 3D printed devices for those in need.

It was incredible to see so many e-NABLE devices on display and to stand back from the crowd and watch people’s reactions as they picked up the devices and learned more about our efforts to change the world, one hand at a time.

It is estimated that globally, 30-100 million people live with limb-loss. The World Health Organization estimates that only 5-15% of these individuals have access to prosthetic care.

It was amazing to walk around examining and touching some of the prosthetics that were created from leather and metal…that at the time they were being worn, were considered the best of the best solutions for those with limb loss and that we now look at and view as “Steampunk” designs!

As I moved through the rooms of the exhibit halls, I was pleasantly surprised to find displays featuring some of our fellow pioneers in open source 3D prosthetic, inclusive and artistic designs!

One of the favorites of the event goers was the display featuring Jordan Reeves of Born Just Right and her fun Project Unicorn design that she created with Kidmob and Autodesk Pier 9 during Superhero Cyborgs. Instead of a hand design, she decided she wanted something that would shoot glitter and boy…does it ever shoot glitter!

Around another corner, I found another Kidmob participant, Aidan Robinson who created his very own Superhero arm with the help of Coby Unger. Aidan decided he wanted an arm that he could attach various things to and came up with this fun and functional design that allows him to change out his tool hands for whatever he needs at the time. From a spoon and stylus to a video game controller and a lego hand!

In the e-NABLE display, I was happy to find that the pencil and pen attachment design created by 5 year old Cam and his mom Sarah Haight of Different Heroes was included! They have not only been creating free 3D printed hands and arms for other kids like Cam who were born missing fingers, but they have been brainstorming ideas and designing tools to share back to the global community!

I was really excited to see that the museum had also included 3D printed prosthetics for animals in their exhibit! These designs have really opened up a whole new world for animals who would normally have to be put down or who would often get passed up on adoption day due to their differences but who now have a second chance at life.

The exhibition is free and open to the public and will be on view from February 15 – May 9, 2018 at the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture at PNCA’s main campus building, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design at 511 NW Broadway.

“Bespoke Bodies is all about innovation and impact,” said Sam Aquillano, Executive Director of Design Museum Foundation. “At the Design Museum we’re focused on how design impact’s people’s lives and this awe-inspiring work is making a difference for so many — but so few people know about it. We know people will find these incredible human stories and engineering marvels inspirational on many levels.”

The exhibit features over 35 case studies — spanning DIY-inventions from kids to mind-controlled bionic limbs — telling the stories behind the patients, clinicians, designers, and artists who are changing how we think about the impact of design, and ultimately, the future of our mobility. Visitors will explore the evolution of and design process behind a range of prosthetic devices through visual stories, historical surveys, videos, and interactive models.

Wilson Smith, Senior Designer at Nike Inc. and member of the Content Advisory Committee states “Design plays an important role in the world of prosthetics. Not only, is it about creating something that performs and is functional, but it’s also about designing something that’s aesthetics and speaks to the individual’s passions and style.”

“At PNCA we are committed to showcasing how art, design, and culture intersect with everyday life.” says Mack McFarland, Director of Center for Contemporary Art & Culture at Pacific Northwest College of Art “This exhibit showcases how design and innovation is an integral component of peoples lives, and we are proud to be a part of that.”

To complement and extend the impact of the exhibition there are a number of events featuring inspirational leaders in the field, prosthetic users, clinicians, designers, and community organizers — including an opening reception, Paralympics viewing party, workshops, tours and panel discussions.

Bespoke Bodies: The Design & Craft of Prosthetics was made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Public Events Related to the Program:

First Thursday, Exhibit Tours

March 1 • 5:30-7:00pm


Panel Discussion: UNITE: Human Tech Connect

March 8 • 6:00-8:00pm

Design Museum and PNCA Members: Free; Not-Yet-Members: $20

Viewing Party: Paralympics Opening Ceremonies

March 9 • 6:00-9:00pm


First Thursdays, Exhibit Tours

April 5 • 5:30-7:00pm


Workshop: Hand Built Hands

April 7 • 10:00am-12:00pm

Design Museum and PNCA Members: Free; Not-Yet-Members: $10

Design Week Open House

April 17 • 6:00-8:00pm


Special Event: VIP Dinner with Dr. Albert Chi and Johnny Matheny

April 24th • 6:00-8:00pm

Please inquire for more details

First Thursdays, Exhibit Tours

May 3 • 5:30-7:00pm


For full details on public programs visit designmuseumportland.org

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