|Aging in Place: A New Design Era...|
Tomorrow's product and environmental designs must respond to our aging population's emerging 'age-in-place' consumer market...
in a unique
before in the
has the world
AS WE ENTER THE 21st CENTURY, designers and marketers will continue to shape the environmental context within which millions of today's aging consumers will live, work, and play.
The question is, will manufacturers and builders continue to produce products and living environments that discriminate against age and disability—or—will the growing demands of our exploding aging "silver market" ignite a conscious effort to eliminate the design barriers, which have, for too long, deprived too many of their dignity and indepndence?
It's ironic that the very technology that prolongs the life of our aging friends and relatives, also yields frustrating consumer products and environments that rob them of their status, their roles, their independence, their self-respect.
For too long, people of all ages and abilities have had to adapt both body and mind to those "cool," but callous, youth-targeted products and environments designed to dispense short term pleasure and status at the cost of human- sensitive, long term, physical and sensory accommodation.
As it starts
the next generation
a new priority —transgenerational
WE'RE ON THE THRESHOLD of a new design era that acknowledges and addresses the aging population's search for environmental equality. A ground swell of demand for intelligent user-friendly design is being heard throughout the world—and it's signaling the beginning of the end of descrimination by design. The race has begun.
Today, 50 million middle-aged Baby Boomers, the driving force behind yesterday's youth culture, are racing toward the threshold of senior citizenship. By 2012, the first wave will startcrossing the line.
Their collective demands for age-accommodating products and environments will spark a dramatic transformation of our products and environments, houses and workplaces, transportation systems—even our playgrounds and recreational facilities.
As they start adding to today's 36 million Americans age 65 and older, their swelling numbers are forming a powerful "age wave," creating a sea-change in demand for age-sensitive, age-friendly, age-accessible consumer products and environment.
The key issue: persuading designers, architects, manufacturers and home builders to end discrimination by design.
Every day, shoppers of all ages and abilities, browse the malls and stores and experience discrimination by design. They respond defensively, rejecting products and environments that stereotype and patronize them by inferring "old age" or "disability."
By contrast, attractive transgenerational designs accommodate rather than discriminate; sympathize rather than stigmatize; and innovate rather than replicate. Such designs appeal to young and older users.
They do this by:
This is why transgeneratonal design is so important. It removes environmental barriers, extends independent living, provides wider options, offers greater choices, and extends the quality of life for all—and at no group's expense.
We need a new mindset—a new generation of age-and-ability-sensitive living environments and household products. We need a new crop of designs that are safe, comfortable, convenient, adjustable and easily used by a diverse "transgenerational" population.
Think about where you live—the products you use. How often do you become frustrated as you go about your daily tasks? Have you ever raised a blister? Sprained an ankle? Cut a finger? Broken a bone? Become pregnant? How well does the design of your house and your products really serve your needs?
After purchasing your last "cool," "enticing," "fashionable" product, how soon did its in-store promise of comfort and convenience morphe into curses of pain, anger, fatigue and frustration?
The bottom line: shouldn't your home and its products—furniture, appliances, cabinetry, computers, kitchen utensils, bathroom fixtures, flooring, hand tools, lighting, etc.—be just as easily used by an arthritic grandfather, a teenager with a broken ankle, a Baby Boomer in a wheelchair, a veteran with one arm, or even a pregnant 20-something bride with poor eyesight?
Of course they should!
THERE ARE MANY WAYS:
Competition to attract this market will intensitify. Transgenerational design is the emerging option for marketing to people of all ages and abilities.
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