Creative Designs for Aging

“Creative aging is about possibilities, freeing ourselves of limiting beliefs about aging and embracing the reality that individuals continue to grow, learn and contribute throughout the life journey.”
~ Pat Spadafora, Director, Centre for Elder Research

In 2008, the global design and ideas firm IDEO established an internal competition called ‘Designs-On’ that challenges their design teams to create innovative design concepts based on specific themes. The latest theme on aging addressed some of the challenges facing older adults. The teams submitted a total of 19 designs and posted them on Tumblr.

Here is a sample of the unique and unusual proposed design solutions:
trikka_context_330pxThe Munich design team created a product called Trikka. According to the design team “Trikka helps keep walking and cycling a part of your independent, everyday life. To minimize daily hurdles, Trikka has big wheels and can easily switch between walking and cycling modes”.

pit_stop_posts_2_702pxThe Singapore team describes their ‘Pit Stop Posts’ idea as “a line of street furniture designed to help seniors and those who are slower in pace find a place to rest in busy urban areas. Resting posts that appear as walking sticks allow seniors a moment’s pause or a place to hang shopping bags while they stand at traffic lights and navigate public transportation systems”.

OWL_702pxDesigners in Palo Alto, California devised the ‘On the Wisdom of Life’ (OWL). The team produced an “elegant thought time capsule flanked with 80 glass tubes representing the years of your life. Each year, you are asked to write a reflection on the past year and a hope for the coming year to be placed it in one of the vessels. Tubes that live above the wooden piece represent the wisdom you’ve accumulated, with varying heights symbolizing the ups and downs of the year. The tubes below represent the potential for years ahead. Quietly perched in the living room as decor, the OWL extends to all generations and can help families share each other’s histories visually on the wall”.

London_Sprouts_702pxIn London, the IDEO team created a solution for the aging English gardener. “Sprouts is a simple program that turns the untended gardens of the elderly into a learning opportunity for school children. As with the Girl and Boy Scouts, young Sprouts develop skills and earn badges that help cultivate a new appreciation of nature, particularly for urban children. In turn, the elderly benefit by having their gardens maintained. The seniors determine the level of engagement they would like to have — be it sharing their passion for plants with the kids or merely enjoying the sounds of their happy chatter through an open window”.

Innovative thinking spawns endless possibilities for creative aging. An article in Adweek reports about a project that matches Brazilian children who want to hone their English speaking skills with older adults living in retirement homes. Watch the video on YouTube to see the heartwarming results.

Do you have an idea for aging creatively? We would love to hear from you.


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