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Idealog—in the ideas business

Critical Care bed wins critical design award

Three years and 10 prototypes later, it seems the hard work has paid off for Howard Wright and their M8 critical care medical bed, which took out top honours at the recent Australian International Design Awards, winning the Design Award of the Year.

It’s the fourth design award win for the M8. The M8 has also won the prestigious international iF design award, a Red Dot design award from the Germany-based Red Dot Institute, and an award in the Best Design Awards run by the Designers Institute of New Zealand.

“Howard Wright has always been focused on design innovation ever since the company produced the world’s first hydraulic operated medical bed back in the 1960s,” says Howard Wright chief executive officer, Bruce Moller.

It was the attention to detail of all aspects of the bed - including its aesthetics, choice of materials, functionality, safety, as well as comfort for all users of the bed - that impressed the Australian design judges.

“Superb functionality, soft-touch surfaces and invited aesthetics are the culmination of a ground-up, human-centred approach to design,” said the judges.

“For a low production run product, the M8 intensive care bed represents the work of an exceptional company driven to lead by design.”

For Howard Wright’s Research and Development Manager Anthony Batley, the M8 embodies Howard Wright’s simple, smart, human design approach.

“Our design process considered everyone who would come in contact with the M8 including the patient, the medical specialists, the orderlies and cleaners—even friends and family visiting the patient,” says Batley.

The M8’s design innovations have also been recognised with a good initial order book since it was officially launched late last year. In December, 2009, the M8 was selected as the sole provider in the Western Australian Public Health Unit’s (WAPHU) contract for critical care beds.

And it seems like New Zealand is keen for a slice of the M8 cake, with orders received by Southern Cross Hospitals and the Hawkes Bay and Auckland District Health Boards.

The New Zealand connections extend further with Hamilton company Simcro receiving an award for design excellence for their Optiline TM Drencher.

The design manufacturing company was also one of the nine finalists nominated for the overall Australian International Design Award of the Year, and the company’s managing director is chuffed:

 “We are delighted and honoured to receive an Australian International Design Award in such impressive company. This accolade is further confirmation that our clear focus on innovative design and serious R&D investment will reap rewards.”


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