"Purple is the new pink," Rie Nørregaard, creative director of design trio Omhu asserts. We're in the team's cozy Chelsea office discussing the most coveted hue of their first product -- the
Omhu Cane -- which debuted late last year and led to a flurry of critical praise. Conceived with action objects like hockey sticks and skateboard decks in mind, this handcrafted cane fits in as comfortably in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum store as it does at a local pharmacy. "The reason why we made six colors is because if you tell someone they need a cane, that's a hard conversation to have. But if you ask someone what color they want, you've gone around that into the place where they can choose their favorite and that's all there is to it," says Nørregaard.
Omhu, meaning "with great care" in Danish, was started by Nørregaard, her good friend Susy Korb and Susan Towers; the latter two used to work together at the luxury publishing house Assouline. Nørregaard was pregnant while simultaneously caring for her husband's elderly parents when talks for Omhu began. They realized that while the baby market was saturated, the durable medical equipment industry was wide open -- undefined by style, design or branding. "Right now people are living longer but they're not necessarily living better," says Towers. The three set out to change the way people think about aging and disability by creating contemporary, aesthetically pleasing items for that older demographic.
A shower stool, developed in collaboration with celebrated industrial designer Stephen Burks, is in the works and their next creation -- a cane holder doubling as a nightlight -- is already in
use on their office wall. "We want everything we create to have a second purpose so we're not making stuff that just piles up in the corner when not in use." To illustrate this point they pull out a product used for inspiration -- a rolling walker with a tray table attached. "At the end of the day it's about getting your cocktail over to the TV," Nørregaard says. Truly a sentiment everyone -- both young and old -- can appreciate.
(Above: L-R) Susy Korb, Rie Norregaard, Susan Towers
Grooming: Mesh Subra at opusbeauty using T3 Micro