Monday, November 8th, 2010

Designer Q&A: Allen Zadeh and Rie Norregaard from OMHU


Posted by Ali | View all posts by Ali

Guess what, folks…we’ve added a cane/walking stick to our collection of curated products. Yes, a cane. You may be scratching your head thinking “What crazy juice did the peeps at Design Public drink?” Well, I think after you take a look at the beauty of the OMHU cane (pronounced “om-who”) and read our interview with the designers Allen Zadeh and Rie Norregaard you’ll understand. Think beautiful one speed bike paint meets Scandinavian design meets skateboard materials meets walking cane. A great gift for ma or pa or just a dapper dude. Enjoy!

I have to admit, adding a walking stick/cane to our site is quite a departure for us, but after reading about the inspiration behind the canes I totally fell in love. You also all have such an extensive background in so many different arenas with Susy Korb (formerly of Tiffany’s, Chrstie’s and Harry Winston), Rie Norregaard (Smart Design, Arnell Group and frog) and Susan Towers (Kiehl’s 1851, Time Inc., Assouline). Now I must ask, why design a walking stick? From all your different backgrounds what was the catalyst towards designing a cane?

Rie: A couple of years ago I started to have to buy stuff to help my in-laws around the house – like a cane, a bath chair, a bed side table. But I couldn’t find any thing I liked – and I’m a very good shopper! All the stuff looks like it belongs in a hospital – not a home. When it was time to design OMHU’s first product it was natural to ask Allen Zadeh. We had worked together at Smart design and I thought Allen’s sense of materials and performance was perfect for us.

Tell us about the name OMHU (om-who).

Rie: It means something that is done with great care in Danish. That’s where I’m from – but Susy came up with the name.

I can certainly see the reference with your cane to an Italian one speed bike via the bright and perfect colors, I can also see the Scandinavian design influence. Tell us more about what inspired the OMHU Cane design.

Rie: I’m from Copenhagen – and as you may know everyone rides a bike there. It’s just how you get around. So, I think it’s just a natural thing for me to refer to the joy of movement and independence a bike gives you. Both Allen and our engineer Clay Burns have experience with performance sports equipment so that was another important reference for us.

Beyond a walking stick, what other products for an aging population do you think could use a bit more of a design aesthetic?

Rie: There are so many products in the category we need to make better. OMHU focuses on the things that most people need for many different reasons –  like a cane, walker, bath chair and adjustable bed side table –so stay tuned.

How would you describe your design style?

Allen: I don’t really have a specific style. I try to create things that make people feel special or make them smile.

Your dream project?

Allen: Designing an electric super car.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Allen: Trust your intuition.

What’s your favorite color or material?

Allen: I like natural materials like Read the rest of this entry »