The Nest is a futuristic cot design created by the designer Alexandre Biju of the Marseille-based design agency IDEACT for hospital neonatal departments. Premature and newborn babies are cocooned in a capsule, which is fitted with a device that diffuses calming scents to the baby within.

The idea for The Nest came from paediatrician Dr Catherine Gire who was in charge of the neonatal department at the Hospital Nord of Marseille. She was seeking a gentle, non-invasive solution for treating natural pain in premature babies who are often too weak to receive strong medication. Her solution to diffuse the scent of maternal milk to premature babies won her the Philips Healthcare award in 2011.

An encounter between Dr Gire and Laurent Moy, the creator of Aroma Therapeutics, resulted in the idea for a capsule cot that could diffuse scents through the use of a plant-based biopolymer. Following successful clinical trials, Moy contacted IDEACT to help them realise this idea. 

Alexandre Biju, IDEACT’s designer who worked on The Nest project, explains that the aim with the design was to make the product as visually soothing and reassuring as possible. “The realisation of this futuristic design was to highlight the great potential of this new method of treatment,” says Biju. “The design had to stand out and be as innovative and attractive as this treatment method is sensory.”

The brief was loose and Biju effectively had free reign, with the only criteria being that the cot had to be welcoming and comfortable for babies and suitable for a hospital environment. “Working on this project has truly been a pleasure. Aroma Therapeutics gave us carte blanche to make the perfect product. It was an opportunity to be as creative as possible, which is great especially for a young designer like myself,” comments Biju.

The final concept consists of a cradle with two windows on either side that can remain closed or lowered for easy access. The cradle can also be tilted on its base, further facilitating easy handling. The monitor that controls the scents is placed inside and can conveniently be changed through the use of plant-based biopolymer cartridges.

The Nest was recently awarded in the Observeur du Design, an annual French design award organised by the French agency for the promotion of the creative industries (APCI), which recognises the successful collaborations between designers and organisations. Each year an independent jury of design professionals and experts awards ‘Stars of the Observeur’ to the most outstanding products. The Nest received a star in the product category.

“To earn a star in the Design Observer is an important recognition and gives me motivation for future projects,” says Biju. “I hope to repeat this success and continue to work on projects as challenging as The Nest for Aroma Therapeutics.”

The Nest is currently on display within the L’Observeur du design 13 exhibition at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, the Paris Science Museum, until 24 March 2013.

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