What if incontinent patients could shake off some of their embarrassment and regain self- esteem? Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Julia Veldhuijzen van Zanten presented specially designed protective underwear to establish just that at the academy’s recent Graduation Show.

Many people suffer from incontinence. Much of that suffering is caused by the thick sanitary towels or diapers they have to wear. These are annoying and often embarrassing things you don’t want to carry around. They solve the problem in a practical way, but ignore the emotional associations and feelings of shame that go with the use of these products. Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Julia Veldhuijzen van Zanten addressed this issue by designing underwear that gives incontinence patients more self esteem and fewer limitations.

The underwear Van Zanten designed is made of wool and silk, combined with removable and exchangeable parts made of absorbing yarns and micro fibres. These are much smaller and better looking than the usual products. The underwear just looks as good as normal underwear and everything is washable. The storage container looks fine too and has nothing to do with an average diaper container. Holes in the sides make it easy to wash the underwear in the container too.

With her project Julia van Zanten aims to change attitudes towards products for people with incontinence problems. She wants to take them out of the medical range and place them in a normal, everyday context. Her underwear should be sold alongside ordinary underwear and also used as such. For Van Zanten the whole project is not so much about the product itself but much more about the experience and the conversation around this issue. She is currently developing the products with an Italian producer, and is looking for people who want to test them.