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Inclusive design for later life

30 July 2021 | 2 minutes

On the basis of his vision for inclusive design for later life, we are nominating Jeremy Myerson as a Carents Room hero. 

His ideas echo our own concerns about design and retail in later life.    Like us, Professor Myerson fears an older future which entails “living in a design ghetto of special needs gadgets”. 

In this video, Professor Myerson powerfully depicts later life as  “A world where all our interest in aesthetics and style and form is abandoned just to survive in later life” and he asks the same questions that we have been muttering and ruminating over amidst carenting, ageing and building The Carents Room. 

  • “Why is it so bad?”
  • “Why is it sourced from obscure catalogues rather than The Conran Shop?”
  • “Why is it all about medical aids and appliances?”
  • “Who thought that white plastic grabrails in the kitchen was a good idea?”
  • “Why are expectations so low, so beige, so bland?”

To all designers and retailers out there, we implore you, in Professor Myerson's words, when it comes to the physical changes associated with ageing,

Why can’t we design for these changes in the same way that great, beautiful sexy design is created for other age groups?

Professor Myerson is an academic, author and activist in design. He was Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design for 16 years until 2015, pioneering new practices in inclusive design in relation to population ageing. 

 His Ted Talk presents how creative inclusive design principles transformed the mobility scooter into a cool, yet ergonomically safe, push scooter and describes stairlift innovations and zimmer frame alternatives .  

Like us, he recognises the growing numbers of older adults, the scale of the “silver market” and the opportunities of raising design and retail standards for older people.   He also, recognises the value of embracing ageing, and developing services and products which promote health and intergenerational engagement in later life.

As a final challenge, Professor Myerson asks whether the dominant medical model of ageing is helpful to society – is ageing about decline and decrepitude or is it an era rich in possibility?   Whilst we recognise the biological realities, society can still embrace ageing to enable more inclusive and appealing possibilities.

We applaud his words, and his vision to re-imagine the social and cultural templates for later life so that we can anticipate ageing with joy and excitement.

Ageing doesn't need to be grey!