EventsForward thinking: Designing for our Future Selves

A new free exhibition explores how design is transforming the way society can support everyone to age with greater agency and joy.
Content Team1 year ago8 min

How often do you think about the impact of age on workplace design and wellbeing? A new display by the Design Museum and Design Age Institute is inviting visitors to explore the ways innovation and design are responding to the needs, interests and aspirations of an ageing society, and indeed, their own future selves.

The Designing for Our Future Selves display will be showcased in the atrium of the Design Museum in Kensington, London, from 24 February to 26 March 2023 and builds on last year’s successful Future of Ageing display, reminding us that the one thing we all have in common is that we are all getting older – no matter our age.

With more of us living longer, an increasing proportion of the UK’s population will become part of an older, healthier, more financially secure, and technologically savvy demographic.

But we will also face many global challenges, including automation resulting in job losses, the climate emergency, global pandemics, and the cost of living. The traditional life stages of education, employment and retirement will need to be radically reimagined.

Designing for our Future Selves will showcase how, in a changing world, cutting-edge design can help people to not only live their later years independently, sustainably and healthily but also with joy and fulfilment.

Josephine Chanter, Director of Audiences at the Design Museum, said, “The needs of older audiences are distinct and all too often overlooked by companies and designers. These ten projects represent ideas and prototypes that open up the possibility of how we can all age with more agency and joy.”

Designs to support ageing in the workplace

The display showcases 10 new cutting-edge design initiatives currently being developed by Design Age Institute and its partners, all of which will positively impact people’s homes, health and work as they grow older. These include:


Live/workspace for later life

Home Office live _ workspace credit Paul Jones, Chris Brown and Adam Cosheril

More and more people are extending their working lives, and older workers represent a valuable source of experience, talent and financial contribution to the economy. Flexible working is key to keeping older people in the workforce. However, while many are increasingly working from home, few homes are designed to support healthy, independent and active living and working beyond the traditional retirement age.

Home Office to Age in Place brings together architects, designers for ageing and digital designers from Northumbria University, along with furniture designers from Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy. Together they have created a purpose-built, flexible, and supportive live-work space for older residents in South Seaham Garden Village, County Durham for Karbon Homes.

An immersive light installation

Designing for our future selves

Circadian rhythms – sleep-wake cycles that follow the sun – constantly change during people’s lifetimes. Between the ages of 60 to 65 they start earlier and DESIGNING FOR OUR FUTURE SELVES 7 continue to shift by half an hour each decade. Light Cycle explores how light and darkness can promote greater health and happiness in later life by improving circadian rhythms to support mood, sleep patterns, temperature regulation and hormone release.

This project was conceived to create intergenerational communities and enhance well-being by members of Clarion55, a national resident group of over-55’s led by Clarion Futures, part of Clarion Housing Group, the largest social landlord in England. Independent lighting architects Speirs Major are working with light and wellness expert Dr. Shelley James, of Age of Light Innovation to collaborate with members of Clarion55 to develop plans and interventions.

A chair that enables sitting and standing

RISER CHAIR A chair that enables sitting and standing

Riser Chair aims to assist users with sitting and standing while being a beautiful piece of furniture that people will not only need but will want in their homes and offices. Creator Ali Jafari, founder of Designed Healthcare Ltd based at Innovation Studio Arts University Bournemouth, was inspired to create Riser Chair by his experience as a nurse assisting patients to sit and stand.

From 24 February to 26 March, the exhibition will be displayed in the Atrium of Kensington’s Design Museum, open daily from 10:00 to 18:00. No pre-booking is needed to see the free displays, but you can find more information about the exhibit here.

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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