The world is a challenging place, but for some people the challenge is greater but far less obvious. For people living with disabilities, activities that you or I take for granted can be hugely complex – but this doesn’t stop them living their life to the fullest. The extra challenges they face force them to adapt, to think outside of the box, to innovate and create their own solutions, to become experts at living. One weekend in early October, we proudly welcomed experts from around the world to a special event in New York, inspired by them and their achievements, called Meet the Experts.
The event was conceptualised and brought to life by The Collective, a partnership between UNYQ, IKEA, Open Style Lab, and Two Blind Brothers. Our aim was to give the experts a unique platform to share their stories with the world and to show people the truly amazing things humanity can do when faced with unusual and unexpected challenges.
Over the course of the weekend, the experts showcased their “life hacks”, bringing their novel solutions to everyday problems into the public eye. In the centre of the Meet the Expert floor space hung the “Problem Cloud”, displaying a multitude of objects and concepts that represent a different problematic experience for the experts and the impracticality of the status quo for people living with disabilities. The items were tagged with descriptions of the challenges the experts face and ropes linked them to the solutions created or inspired by the experts. For example, an assistive device that helps people with limited to no arm movement to get dressed or ways of playing musical instruments following loss of hearing. Not all the objects in the Problem Cloud led to a solution – these represented problems that still needed an idea, a solution, a “hack” to enable the status quo to be overcome. Guests attending Meet the Experts were encouraged to bring along objects or concepts that challenge them in everyday life so that the experts can provide another lens through which to approach them.
Meet the Experts was a fantastic opportunity for the general public to experience the lives of our experts first hand. The overwhelmingly positive responses to the achievements and tenacity of the experts were heart-warming. Due to the success of the Meet the Experts event, we will be bringing it to London in 2019 – again with IKEA – to give more people a chance to experience the truly inspirational achievements of the experts.
For those of you that cannot wait until 2019, the entire display will be open to the public at IKEA’s museum in Sweden later in the year. And to give you a taste of the event, we hope you enjoy this video with highlights just how special it was.