Coordination Asia were recently approached by Otto Bock, world leaders in state-of-the-art orthotics, prosthetics and mobility devices for assistance in their recent move east. Technological, forward-thinking and cutting-edge in their approach, Otto Bock was an obvious partner for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but it was an invitation to return to China two years later to share their vision at the Life & Sunshine Pavilion of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai that proved the catalyst for the founding of a permanent China base in November of the same year.
A global leader, it was crucial that the Shanghai headquarters reflect the brand’s qualities and reputation for style, innovation and of course, German design excellence. More than that though, the brand offer choice to disabled people the world over through a range of mobility solutions that don’t simply suit, but offer a perfect match, no matter whether the individual is nine months, nine or ninety. Similarly Coordination Asia offered a perfect fit for the German company. With a wealth of international experience in museum and exhibition design, they have created a thoughtful space that not only showcases Otto Bock’s products to spectacular effect, but also celebrates the brand in impressive style.
Coordination Asia were involved from the outset, identifying an ideal location for Otto Bock’s inaugural China store, fittingly in Shanghai’s fashionable lifestyle hub, Xintiandi. The shop is in good – not to mention apt – company, flanked by luxury car brands Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and Spyker, with a trendy yoga studio above, the commercial combination all alludes to Otto Bock’s meeting of mobility and world-class design. Thoughtfully sited opposite a leafy park, clients can test products on a paved surface in relaxing, picturesque surroundings.
With client comfort, convenience and support in mind, Coordination Asia has fitted the space to match the priorities of Otto Bock, focusing on customer service. Featuring two entrances for optimum accessibility, visitors are greeted by either a wheelchair level reception desk, or large octagonal table, complete with movable seating allowing for chairs of any size, as well as accompanying family members. Creating ample room for wheelchairs to easily manoeuvre was crucial, whilst a low-level vertical display of therapeutic cushions is practical, and for the more mobile, positioned so that clients can test various options by leaning into the padded supports.
The store makes effective use of technology, reinforcing a defining quality of Otto Bock: kitted out with state-of-the-art iPads, customers can explore products either alone or with the assistance of expert staff. An array of screens throughout present films as inspirational as they are educational, all off-set by an abstract take on classical bookshelves to balance the overall effect and cater to a diverse clientele. The 153sqm space cleverly gives the illusion of infinite roominess thanks to effective use of angled mirrors. Visually striking, they have a practical use too: as with any lifestyle essential, Coordination Asia wanted their design to facilitate decisions of both physical needs and, importantly, personal style.
Smashing the stereotype that mobility aids are for a sole, defined demographic, Otto Bock create products for all ages. Accordingly, the store features several ‘islands’ showcasing the brand’s beautiful children’s furniture, designed to support infants’ growth, as well as practical push-chairs and strollers. A separate area is dedicated to the brand’s sporting products – complete with golf putting practice area.
Tasteful and contemporary, the store combines bright white and vibrant green against classic, grey slate paving to striking effect. A butterfly motif, both digital and in reflective glass, is referenced throughout the space: playful and fun, the creature encapsulates agility, grace and energy – all qualities of the Otto Bock brand. Similarly, a stunning chandelier made from chair wheels underlines the strong design element of the products in suitably innovative fashion. Coordination Asia’s design demonstrates an understanding and affinity with Otto Bock. Through accessibility, design excellence and customer service, the store sets a significant and altogether new precedent for the promotion of mobility aids in China.
Text by Frances Arnold, Shanghai