The most groundbreaking products are invariably the ones that disrupt a market filled with pain points--accepted but unacceptable practices that have sat unchanged for years. For Warby Parker, the overturned was overpriced eyewear. For Everlane, it was the arcane apparel manufacturing industry. Sabi, a line of ergonomic and eye-catchy wares for aging baby boomers, takes on the unsexy products out there associated with everyday activities, like taking medicine or taking a walk.
Sabi founder Assaf Wand launched the lifestyle brand early in 2012 with all-star designer Yves Béhar. From the outset, Sabi was developed as a multi-tier line of low-tech health care goods. The first wave, Thrive, has a register of pill boxes, cases, and water bottles that rethought the standard drugstore aisle eyesores. The Thrive line didn’t invent anything radically new--although it did showcase Béhar’s trademark ergonomics--but it introduced consumers to products that don't have to be stashed away in a drawer or cabinet when company is over.
The newest line, Roam, does the same. Walking canes have existed in some form or another since prehistoric times. But today's models tend toward either clinical or garish, so that the current cane market looks like it’s geared exclusively towards nonagenarians or pimps. Roam counters that, with three styles of canes. Sport is the lightest model, made of aluminum with a rubber floor grip; Classic has different hues and a wooden handle; Luxe comes in classic black, a request from a customer who needed a cane to attend a wedding.
“The idea is to make an object you can desire and then go about your life and do what you want to do,” says Rie Nørregaard, Sabi’s creative director. Doing so, she says, is integral to getting compliance rates up: “If your doctor recommends that you take a half-hour walk every day and then you actually do it, you’re much more likely to recover from surgery.”
Roam’s appeal can be attributed to a few tricks: Nørregaard modeled the construction after skateboards by sourcing the flexible material--several sheets of lightweight wood glued together--from board manufacturers. The canes all get powder-coated paint that's similar to treatment for bicycles. Both applied inspirations make the canes feather-light, and channel mobility and athleticism. Plus, the suggestion of the skateboard and bike set, even subliminally, is a refreshingly young, cool, and energetic one for the Sabi market.
But perhaps it's the colors that really rock the cane market. Like the Thrive line, the Roam line comes in bright, modern, countertop-friendly hues. There's the black tie-appropriate Luxe, but the decision to make the rest of the collection in cheerier shades is rooted in retail. It speaks to a very human and very unmet market need: “You can’t go to CVS and buy a cane and put a bow on it and say happy birthday to your mom,” Nørregaard says. “But you can buy a beautiful turquoise cane if your mom’s favorite color is turquoise.”
Roam Sport costs $35, Roam Classic costs $75, and Roam Luxe costs $150. All can be bought at Sabi's online shop.