ThinkingThe Design Museum and Design Age Institute explore ways design can support an ageing population

A new display at London’s Design Museum from 20 July until 11 September 2022 considers how design and innovation can meet the needs, interests, and desires of the older consumer.
Content Team2 years ago6 min

Opening this week (July 2022) at the Design Museum London – The Future of Ageing – curated by Design Age Institute, based at the Royal College of Art, explores how design can support significant demographic changes that point to a future in which there will be more older people than young.

The display will be showcased in the atrium of the Design Museum from 20 July until 11 September 2022. It aims to remind us that we are all ageing no matter our age and considers how design and innovation can meet the needs, interests, and desires of the older consumer with greater agency and even joy.

Life expectancy is increasing – according to the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing – a person born today is expected to live to around 104. By 2040, over a quarter of the UK’s population will be over the age of 60, but over 70% of us will be fit and healthy with no need for social care or support. Almost all of us will be active online, and we are expected to spend over 20 percent less on healthcare and considerably more on recreation, culture, and travel. In the next couple of decades those of us aged over 55 will account for 63 pence of every pound spent in the UK, presenting a massive, untapped market for designers, retailers, and service providers.

By 2040, over a quarter of the UK’s population will be over the age of 60

The display showcases prototypes, sketches, and research from six design projects that are being developed by Design Age Institute and its partners.

One of the displays is Home Office to Age in Place – a project to develop integrated flexible working space in the home to allow independent working in later life. Home Office to Age in Place brings together experts in architecture, design for ageing and computing from Northumbria University, along with furniture designers from Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy. Co-created with users, Light-Block (pictured above centre) is a design concept by Pentagram for a mobile lighting, power and storage solution that allows any table to be converted into a proper workstation.

Designed for engagement

The display has been designed to engage new audiences from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives including design enthusiasts, students, academics, policymakers, and those interested in technology and innovation. The exhibition is free to the public and has been scheduled during the summer months to encourage families and young people to visit.

Colum Lowe, Director, Design Age Institute said: “The Future of Ageing display allows us to demonstrate how design and innovation can transform our homes, workplaces, cities, and neighbourhoods to support us as we age. Getting older is not a singular story of decline, loneliness, and hardship – it also includes wisdom, maturity, confidence, abundance, and adventure. The venue, scheduling, content, and display design will open up this dialogue to new audiences who possibly haven’t considered the challenges and joys of later life.”

Image by Chris Reeve: Centaur Robotics

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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