About Stylite Designs
Up until then, Stylite founder Donal Buckley, himself a wheelchair user, had first-hand experience of the difficulties in finding wheelchairs that fit, both for him and many of his friends. Even today, most off-the-shelf wheelchairs are based on a standard shape that scales up and down in size only. This doesn’t suit wide/short people or long/narrow people and for many simply does not provide an acceptable level of comfort.
While still at college Donal developed the idea of designing wheelchairs based on using building blocks (similar to the concept of LegoTM), with many interchangeable parts, which could be assembled to match the unique size and shape of the individual. Stylite Designs has now been providing custom built wheelchairs for over 30 years and has added a number of additional mobility solutions to its range over the years.
Still at the helm at Stylite, Donal never tires of seeing happy customers wheel out the door, especially the kids! “If we can provide kids with that additional independence and freedom they need to get up to mischief if they want to, then I’m a happy man!”
Being a wheelchair user himself gives Donal a unique insight into the needs and desires of customers, motivating every member of the team at Stylite to provide the best possible solutions for every individual.
Building to Requirement - The Initial Concept
Founder Donal Buckley developed Stylite’s initial concept of designing wheelchairs using building blocks (similar to using LegoTM), with many interchangeable parts, that could be assembled to match the unique size and shape of the individual.
The first models of the FreewheelerTM had:
- 3 side frames lengths
- 10 folding widths
- 3 hanger angles
- 2 armrest styles
- 2 backrest styles
- 4 wheel options.
This provided the user with 3 x 10 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 4 = 1,440 wheelchair combinations.
Back then, all wheelchairs supplied were black and sold at a set, all-in price.
Users needing a 13” wide by 17” depth chair paid the same as those opting for a 17” wide by 13” depth chair.
No wheelchair was pre-built – so the end product was always based on the individual’s unique needs… and not on what we had to sell.
The next big change was to integrate posture management as an integral part of the wheelchair. At the time, slung canvas seats with whoopee cushions seemed to rule the day! Breaking with the established norms once again, Donal issued all FreewheelerTM wheelchairs with timber based foam cushions.
Finally users could access wheelchairs that were built to suit their shape and provided a huge increase in comfort.