Pattie Moore, a gerontologist who studies the social science of aging, designs products with older adults in mind. When Moore was 26 she disguised herself as an 80-year old woman and taveled to over 100 cities across the US and Canada.
Moore had nine characters, ranging from a homeless woman to a rich woman with a chauffer. Her experience, as well as her expertise in gerontology, have informed her designs. Moore’s design clients have included OXO, Herman Miller Healthcare, AT&T, Corning Glass, and 3M.
An urban navigation system won the Judges Award in the Centre for Universal Design Excellence first ever 24-Hour Design Award Challenge.
The design contest consisted of five teams working with an “expert user,” called a “design partner,” to develop a product or service that addresses a challenge commonly faced by the design partner on the streets of Dublin. Participants on the teams were architects, landscape architects, engineers, product designers, interaction designers and students.
The winner, “What a Load of Bollards,” is an intuitive navigation system that can be added to the top of any curbside bollard in a city. The bollard head is replaced by an information dial with tactile highcontrast colored direction arrows and speech output.
Design firm L+W created the “No Country for Old Men” collection in 2012, which consists of Together – a set of walking aids and carts, Aussunta – a chair that tilts forwards to help users rise from a seated position, and MonoLight – a table lamp that illuminates and magnifies. While these products were designed with older adults in mind, their appearance is so friendly and approachable that anyone would love to own them.
Aesthetics is important to Universal Design, because people are often hesitant to buy projects that look institutional or stigmatizing. If Universal Design is going to be brought into the mainstream it will have to be available at the hardware and big box stores where most people shop. At the same time, high-end products, like L+W’s collection, often combine innovation with aesthetics, illustrating just how lovely Universal Design can be.
Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.