Foray Design, like many other inventive companies, began thanks to a mixture of chance and years of prior experiences. This culminated in the creation of a revolutionary, human-centered design. Our co-founders Dr. Patricia Kavanagh and designer Colin Touhey reflect on this cross-generational collaboration, which began through organic conversations about the absence of human-centered design in the physical disability space.
Read more below to learn about Foray Design’s backstory and how leveraging two generations’ minds and experiences produced something unique.
What initially brought you two together to create Foray Design?
Patricia: Initially the two of us met through a friendship between Colin and my daughter; both had a shared passion for hockey. At one point, Colin and I were discussing the issues facing my medical practice, which helps individuals with neurological and physical disabilities. I frequently encountered patients who either did not wish to use a walker or did so reluctantly, often mentioning the negative stigmas they experienced from others. Furthermore, these people felt using a walker impaired their ability to live independently and ironically, their movement. With this problem in mind, Colin, being the designer he is, set to work researching existing solutions, as well as opportunities for developing something new.
Can you describe the initial development of the Spring walker?
Colin: Like Patricia said, I approached the design process for Foray Design’s Spring walker like other products’ I’d created, but with a slight twist. Not only did I want to help people address their need to move more freely, I also sought to incorporate elements that would foster an emotional connection between user and brand.
To accomplish this goal, Patricia and I developed roughly 100 iterations of what would become the Spring before arriving at the final product. Each model was used by a real-life user, which aided us in learning how a walker needed to look and feel to side-step existing walkers’ shortcomings. For example, the Spring’s rounded edges, soft features, and dark color scheme all make for a discrete look, yet do not hinder an individual’s need for support while walking.
What challenges have you faced as a startup?
Patricia: Foray and its walker face two main problems: entering a fragmented market with an unknown product and brand, and confronting people’s anxieties around aging and physical decline.
The former issue is not necessarily unique to us, as many other businesses encounter it, but our target market of customers is distinctly disjointed. Our end users, for instance, are often not the people purchasing a walker; it can be a family member, an assisted living staff member, or a physician. Because of this reality, our marketing efforts require a greater degree of creativity in terms of messaging and incentives that entice sales, especially when competing products feature lower prices.
The second issue, as I mentioned, is people accepting their physical decline and changes to how they move. Layer on top of this situation an individual being told they must use an assistive device like a cane or walker. As you might imagine, such a change entails adjustments to how an individual takes things with them and their appearance thanks to this new object.
In order to address these problems, the team and I seek to change perceptions around walkers and individuals with disabilities affecting their movement. This aspiration permeates all dimensions of Foray Design, from its branding to its website to the Spring walker itself. We aim to uplift our customers through inspiring content and a product that enables them to live with minimal discomfort and maximum dignity. In time, we hope that this project will lead to the Spring and future Foray designs being viewed as consumer products more than medical devices.