Designers create fashion forward prosthetic limbs
The first time McCauley Wanner had a conversation about prosthetics with an amputee she remembers being shocked that there were no options available. When she suggested that there could be alternatives to the cold, medical and impersonal nature of prosthetic limbs, “he was shocked that there could be options.”
Along with her co-founder, Ryan Palibroda, Wanner set out to create unique, personal designs. Their first prototypes were made out of paper, wire, carbon fibre; whatever they could get their hands on to bring their vision to life.
“We made it out of everything until we came up with the material and shape and the process that we have now,” said McCauley.
Seven years later they’re well beyond those early prototypes with their company, Alleles Design Studio, where they are creating fashion forward prosthetic leg covers for their customers.
“It’s the people that bring the designs to life,” says McCauley “One girl has three covers and they’re all the hipster covers and one girl has all the ornate, intricate sort of like lacy ones.” Their covers are designed to attach easily to prosthetics and allow their customers to interchange them to match their style and personality.
Now, Wanner and Palibroda’s work is starting to get noticed. The two were selected from a long list of young Canadian change-makers to be featured in CBC’s “We Are The Change” contest. The contest, currently running online alongside the television series “We Are Canada,” is a partnership between CBC, White Pine Pictures and Ryerson University. The top 10 change-makers worked in collaboration with Ryerson University’s Virtual Studio to create videos and share their stories.
Nadine Richards, an Alleles customer from Calgary, was ecstatic to see their video featured in the contest. “I love my Alleles covers because they totally change the norm of what people are used to associating with "disability."
The way that Alleles has positively influenced the lives of so many amputees stood out to Ryerson University students Daniel De Medeiros, Rocco Bombardieri and Cyrano Sanna, who worked with the duo to make their video.
But with the Alleles team based out of Victoria and the students located in Toronto, the production team had to overcome their own set of obstacles and become change-makers in their own right, embracing a new type of remote production through the “Virtual Studio.”
Their professor, Ramona Pringle explains, “the concept of the Virtual Studio is to empower a new kind of creation through collaboration, across the entire country. What’s so incredible about the networked age we’re living in is that you don’t need to fly across time zones for this kind of production. If you’re creative and resourceful, you can create great content, remotely.”
So what was it like to be interviewed three time zones away? “It was a refreshing change,” says Palibroda, who provided the team with content to help build the story. “They’re students right, and it makes me kind of excited for the future of storytelling and journalism.”
For the students, the experience was an exciting one, too. In addition to learning about editing and interviewing, “creating this piece opened our eyes to the fact that there are great people out there doing great things,” says De Medeiros.
“What feels so innovative about this form of collaborative storytelling is the way that the creators work with their subjects to tell their story in an authentic way. Success means representing your subject in a way that they are proud of, while putting your own creative spin on it,” says Pringle.
In many ways this approach to co-creation echoes the type of dignity and collaborative relationship Wanner and Palibroda aim to build with their clients. As Wanner puts it, “You start working with someone and the thing you end up producing in the end isn’t what either one of you thought it was going to be but it’s actually better.”
With 6,000 views of their video in four days, it seems many Canadians agree.
You can view the Virtual Studio’s video of Wanner & Palibroda along with the other top ten change-makers from all across Canada at cbc.ca/wearethechange and vote for your favourite until April 24th, 2017.
-- Kathryn McKenzie is a Digital Media Producer.