Design Partners Collaborates on the “Magic Chair” to Improve Quality of Life for Alzheimer’s Sufferer

The Magic Chair is a bespoke design that fuses technology, ergonomics and empathy into a smart chair for Alzheimer’s patient that results in a universally desirable experience

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Design Partners, an award-winning product design and innovation agency centered on elevating human potential, this week shared the story of Jacinta Dixon, an Irish woman with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease who inspired the design and creation of The Magic Chair. This chair offers a safe and comfortable space where Jacinta can relax and enjoy the music and books she loves. The Magic Chair leverages Amazon Alexa voice technology in concert with custom tactile controls to help overcome Jacinta’s dyslexia and fading visual processing abilities. Both unfortunate symptoms of her condition.

The concept for The Magic Chair was featured on ‘Big Life Fix,’ an RTE One show, which is partially funded by Science Foundation Ireland, on March 4, 2020. The episode can be viewed HERE.

Jacinta’s Story
The Magic Chair was a bespoke project, designed and built specifically for Jacinta, 69, who lives in Clondalkin, Dublin, Ireland. A few years ago, she noticed her work was becoming more difficult for her, and she was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. Jacinta has problems with visual processing, and she can no longer read, comprehend numbers or tell time from a clock. A self-confessed book worm, it was Jacinta’s wish to enjoy music and read the classics in her retirement. Her family was hoping to make her life as comfortable and self-fulfilling as possible under the circumstances.

Lorna Ross was asked to develop a solution to support Jacinta. After spending time with her to understand her unique and very human requirements, the smart chair was with embedded Amazon voice technology that would enable her to easily access and enjoy the audiobooks and music she loves. After defining the concept and prototyping an early version of the experience, a specialized partner was needed to complete the final product. Design Partners, widely regarded as a design agency centered on elevating human potential, was consulted with to take the idea from basic prototype to bespoke design and product.

The teams visited Jacinta in her home to ensure the chair would fit her living room rather than bringing something unfamiliar into her environment. Using materials, colours, fabrics and textures that would fit comfortably in her space. There was a deliberate decision to integrate the technology so that it was largely invisible and therefore not intimidating or unapproachable.

The ergonomic design was tailored to her own body size and head position so she could rest comfortably for hours. Her old favourite mid-Century armchair was a source of inspiration for the ultimate design.

While the Magic Chair is Amazon Alexa-enabled, Design Partners created a custom tactile button interface to help overcome any confusion with a voice interface. This is made up of three buttons that allow Jacinta to listen to audio books, radio and music with ease. The expectation is that the unique tactile interface will, overtime, become associated with a specific activity through muscle memory.

“Design Partners is proud to collaborate on this journey to design and build a truly bespoke, one-of-a-kind piece of furniture,” said Mathew Bates, Design Director at Design Partners. “Our mission is to elevate human potential, and this has been a heartfelt endeavor to elevate the potential and quality of life for Jacinta. In the process of focusing on a solution that integrates technology, ergonomics and empathy seamlessly with a human, we have created a universal Alzheimer’s smart chair. That said, we believe we have garnered valuable knowledge that will be very relevant in other applications involving overcoming challenges with navigating audio or visual interfaces.” 'The Big Life Fix' is an RTE One show. The show is available worldwide on the player. ‘The Big Life Fix' is a Kite Entertainment production for RTE in association with Science Foundation Ireland. The show is designed to change lives for those who have a disability or are recovering from an accident along with their inspirational stories.

About Design Partners:
Design Partners is a product design & innovation agency based in Dublin, Ireland. Our mission is to elevate human potential. We collaborate with the world’s most innovative brands to create future product experiences that empower and inspire people. From first responders, video gamers, specialist surgeons, to craft makers; our design, UX and engineering experts bring ideas to life that enhance capabilities, performance, and wellbeing. Supported by strategic research and advanced prototyping capabilities, our hands-on approach facilitates faster decision making, simplifies complex interactions for end-users, and enables people to achieve incredible things. 

Skyya PR:
Allison Matthews
Skyya PR

Design Partners:
Cormac O’Conaire
Design Partners

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

Magic Chair - Press Release - 4.14.20