October 15, 2018

On Purpose

Jackie Millea

When we were young women in our twenties, our father had a major stroke, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. After a year at the Mayo hospitals, he came home, and our family had to accept a new normal. He was a very creative person, and he invented ideas that helped him live better day to day. Some of the ideas were a bit crazy, but most made his and his caregivers’ lives easier. He even directed the prefabrication of his electric wheelchair to fit him better. Our parents also acquired assistive furnishings and devices to make the work Mom and the caregivers provided safer and more effective. These items were consistently ugly, and reminded me of similar things I saw in my grandparents’ homes and the homes of others I knew who were dealing with the aging process.

 

I am an architect and interior designer. I see many people’s homes day in and day out. Many of my clients and my friends find themselves apologizing for the look and feel of similar assistive pieces in their homes, and I can tell that they truly feel bad and even embarrassed that the items are in place. Of course I want my friends and clients to be safe, and I have overlooked these awfully styled pieces for my entire career.

After my dad passed away, I had a persistent, recurring thought: why do these assistive pieces have to be so ugly? The more I thought it through, the more strongly I felt that they really don’t have to be. A seed was planted, and I began to look around for pieces that were well designed and on trend. I couldn’t find many. In my head I started to see what they could be, how they would work and how they would make people feel better about themselves and their homes, without sacrificing safety and function. So, after I explained this idea to my husband, he said, “Let’s do it!” and we started on the road to make these ideas a reality.

Millea Living was founded to create beautiful, functioning products that allow people to live in their homes as they age or cope with disabilities. I see them helping young families, bringing peace of mind to people who need a little more stability in daily tasks and enhancing beautiful interior spaces. After the first couple of years, my youngest sister, Jennifer, has joined me in this heartfelt project, and together we have been working hard to bring these ideas to fruition. It has taken many years and a lot of trial and error to get to this point. We have a picky group of supporters and stakeholders who have offered essential feedback, and a wonderful group of manufacturer partners who have helped us create beautiful, functional pieces.

We are excited to share these assistive furnishings with you, and it is my great hope that no one ever has to apologize for a Millea Living piece in their home.

Cheers,
Jackie

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