Michael Graves Monthly Delight Feature: Meet Libby

Meet Libby

This month we have the pleasure of featuring Libby on our Monthly Delight Q&A Blog! Read on to find out more about Libby and her story.

Tell us about yourself, what’s your story?

Hi! I’m Libby, a business strategist with an art history degree who talks to ghosts. The mobility issues that I face are a mere footnote to the rest of my life and not a defining quality. I try to convey that in how I share my story. 

I spent most of my career assessing business processes and implementing sustainable solutions so when I was faced with a disability, I approached it with a “how can we solve for this?” attitude. I’ve spent the past four years navigating full body spasms and spontaneous paralysis that have left the right side of my body far weaker than the left. Having a nervous system that can be a little finicky makes certain things tricky. My aim is to blend realism and optimism when experiencing those blips.

Life won’t always look like this. Best not to get too bogged down by it.

What is one thing you’d like our readers to know?

If using some sort of mobility aid — be it a cane or a walker or arm crutches — expands your ability to venture into the world, embrace it! People will have their perceptions. They’re of no consequence to you. I’ve had plenty of folks look at me with a puzzled expression and comment, “But you’re too young to use a cane.” Funny, here I am using one. And guess what? It enables me to move through the world with more ease. How can that be anything but positive?

I consider my cane an accessory — because it is! We don’t look at someone wearing glasses and think, “Oh, poor thing. You have to wear those on your face.” No. We marvel at what cute frames that person is sporting. I aim for the same reaction to the cane in my hand and by and large receive it.

What led you to MGD?

I’m of the age that we had the entire range of products that Michael Graves designed for Target in the late nineties. The toaster still sits on our shelves and the ironing board with its bulbous blue feet has moved back and forth across the country with me more than once. The playful aesthetic paired with practical functionality has always fit well with my home. Fast forward a few decades to when I stumbled across the Quick-Fold Cane in my search for “cute canes” and fell in love with the impeccable detail for function yet again.

What do you love most about the company Michael Graves Design?

I love that the products that you design actually do what they’re intended to do. So often there’s that gap between concept and execution or, in the land of disability, products that have never been tested by anyone with actual mobility issues. Your designs genuinely enhance the lives of the people who use them.

When I discovered the backstory of Michael Graves ending up hospitalized with paralysis and spending parts of his recuperation observing first hand the shortcomings of accessibility, these designs made even more sense. He took his own life experience as well as his understanding of his fellow patients and their unique challenges and applied his incredible eye for design and solutions to it. The reason that these canes (and I assume the entirety of the healthcare designs) feel like they were created by someone who understands my needs is because they were. It wasn’t some hypothetical problem to be solved on paper.

Thinking about that brings tears to my eyes. Anyone who has lived with a disability knows that basic components of life can hold their own struggles. Add to that the aids that are supposed to make things easier fighting against you, and it’s exhausting. These designs empower instead of offering another gut punch. Thank you.

Michael Graves is also a stunning example that your life doesn’t end when you’re faced with a disability. Do you have to pivot? Most likely. Ultimately, the struggles that you have faced can be translated into solutions and support for others who are experiencing similar circumstances. His work demonstrates that and lives on through his team.

If you use one of our canes, which do you use? The C-Grip Cane or the Quick-Fold?

Both! I keep a Quick-Fold Cane in the car to have on hand if I begin to feel unsteady while out and about or know that I’m entering a crowded establishment. It’s my go-to everyday cane. The C-Grip Cane is great for the days that I’m feeling particularly unsteady and know that I’ll need a way to brace myself when standing. 

What do the Michael Graves Design canes bring to the table that others were lacking?

This list is extensive! I remember picking up a folding cane (from another company) when I lacked almost all of my strength and laughing that they thought someone like me could pull it hard enough to get it to collapse. There was no way that was happening. It folded in theory only. Contrast that with the Quick-Fold Cane that pulls into sections seamlessly and holds together with magnets. Bonus! Flipping it back to full length evokes a real superhero wowza kind of feeling.

The handle is genuinely comfortable instead of one of those ergonomic grips that’s too big for my hand or the squishy foam ones that leave a lasting smell that seems to never disappear no matter how many times I wash. I didn’t even know that I wanted to be able to hang my cane from the table, but now it’s one of my favorite features. No more delicately balancing the cane in the corner and hoping that gravity doesn’t have its way with it!

I couldn’t have articulated this as a request, but wow am I glad that the canes are super light. There have been so many periods where my strength was greatly diminished. Not having to exert effort to pick up and move a heavy cane is fantastic.

No joke, I recommend these canes to complete strangers and have more than a few friends who have one due to my chattering. They are so thoughtfully designed.

Which color cane is your favorite?

Red. Hands down. No question.