Research / Human Factors / Industrial Design / Branding / Branding / Animation / Engineering / Production

The first moments of a newborn’s life are crucial for lifelong development. It is during this time that a mother bonds, skin-to-skin, with her child. Together they foster warmth and a stable heart rate for baby while establishing their first moments of connection. The Scandinavians have a term for this closeness – Nära.

The Nara bassinet was designed from the ground up as a new innovation in the Labor and Delivery department of the hospital. It was designed to bring mothers close to their newborns when it matters most and provide caregivers with a safe, ergonomic care solution.


Tekna recognized that the bassinet market has been relatively ignored for decades. Current bassinets can be described as one of two things: a wood filing cabinet or a metal filing cabinet on wheels. We started to ask the question, why are we pushing newborn babies around on filing cabinets?

We started our research at the source – with NICU and mother/baby nurses. We conducted one-on-one user interviews, focus group discussions, and took full-scale mockups into the field to get to the root of the frustrations. We heard complaints of bulkiness, uncleanliness, and inaccessibility that added up to an experience that was just plain clunky.  We studied each person’s interactions and allowed their feedback to evolve our design. Some nurses were stooping and straining too much, others struggled to quietly and efficiently maneuver the bassinet, and mothers had trouble reaching for their babies from bed. It was clear we needed to develop a new solution.


We implemented our iterative prototyping processes and leveraged sketch exploration, CAD development, in-house 3D printing, and fabrication methods to refine the aesthetic and functionality. When we are challenged with a complex set of design constraints we don’t let our exploration get bogged down in a single process. Bouncing back-and-forth allows the development tools to inform one another, driving decisions and pushing the project forward.

We conducted comprehensive formative and summative usability testing with Labor/Delivery and NICU nursing staff, hospital environmental services, and new moms. Their overwhelmingly positive responses validated the final design and new features. Check out the video to see the team’s final solution.

As the product evolved, so did the brand, differentiating it in the market as approachable, caring, and inviting. Branding efforts included print material, animation, and video creation.  The true value of experience that we were reinventing was taking shape but it needed a name, and ultimately we had to look outside the English language to capture its essence – Nara.


Altogether, initial user research, opportunity identification, and industrial design grew to mechanical engineering, regulatory support, branding, and manufacturing for a Class II medical device. The exciting value propositions presented by our end product captured the interest of a major medical device manufacturer that led to an OEM opportunity for Tekna. Our Realization crew worked tirelessly to ensure every bit of design intent was captured when we brought the product to life. We take pride in delivering this solution as locally designed and manufactured, leveraging a supply chain based predominantly in Michigan.

So far, hospital staff reactions view our solution as a much-needed innovation in the quality of care. Early sales have also been very positive, converting entire fleets of older bassinets with a demonstration of the new product. More to come…