What if prosthetics were designed like wearable art?
This question spurred Min Li, Xiaoyu Zhang, and Xiao Yang to design beautiful pieces attached to a prosthetic leg. Li and Zhang are the designers behind Chinese jewelry brand YVMIN and Yang is a prosthesis-wearing Chinese model and influencer.
Yang, who has been using a prosthetic leg for almost two decades, was immediately sold with the concept. Although wearing a prosthesis is a must for most people living with limb loss, Yang believes it can look gorgeous.
The collaboration between the fashion-loving trio led to three ornamental shells that can be worn over Yang’s prosthetic leg. The shells were made of resin and nylon—lightweight materials that won’t be an added burden to the prosthetic user.
YVMIN is known for delicate, feminine jewelry; think heart-shaped pendants and bowed earrings. This collaboration with Yang allowed Li and Zhang to challenge their design chops by creating something different and new.
Photo courtesy of YVMIN
The design process began with a 3D scan of Yang’s legs and prosthetic limb. Then, they used vacuum plating to give the resin and nylon materials a metallic luster. Fun, decorative elements—a jagged shape resembling a growing plant and the heart-shaped knee cap—transformed the shells and made them feel like jewelry pieces. Ornate jewels, like purple zircon, were also added.
When YVMIN and Yang posted the prosthetic leg designs on their respective Instagram pages, they garnered thousands of likes. Although the collaboration was a one-time project, it meant so much more to the prosthetic users who saw the posts. One commenter said she has never seen such beauty.
This is because high-fashion prosthetic accessories are rarely seen in public. Although companies like Alleles create prosthetic covers in fun colors and prints, avant-garde, art-like pieces, like the ones by YVMIN, remain on fashion runways and editorial pages. In an interview for Vogue, the design duo clarified that the prosthetic shells aren’t for sale. They created the pieces specifically for Yang.
But because of this experience, the creative trio saw that there’s demand for more design-driven prosthetics. They hope that other brands will be inspired to experiment with the same idea as well.
What do you think of art-like prosthetic accessories? Would you use them?