“The challenge for business and industry is to create a world that is age-friendly, accessible and affordable, without being boring, stigmatising or over-protective.
The way to meet that challenge is through design.”
~ Baroness Sally Greengross
The concept of universal design “involves designing products and spaces so they can be used by the widest range of people possible”. Universal design benefits everyone. As Professor Bernard Isaacs said “design for the young and you exclude the old; design for the old and you include the young.”
Successful businesses are creating products and environments that are conducive to the aging population.
According to the company’s website, OXO “was founded in 1990 on the philosophy of Universal Design. It is important to note that Universal Design does not mean designing products fully usable by everybody, since there is no product that can truly fulfill the needs of all users. But when all users’ needs are taken into consideration in the initial design process, the result is a product that can be used by the broadest spectrum of users.”
For example, the OXO angled measuring cup allows the user to look straight down into the angled surface to read measurement markings which eliminates the need to fill, check and adjust the amount of liquid. The cup also features a soft, non-slip grip handle and bright measurement markings.
Kaiser Grocery Stores
The German grocery chain Kaiser refurbished their stores to meet the needs of older adult shoppers. Their shopping carts are designed with ergonomic handles, magnifying glasses, locking wheels, high baskets, and seats to rest on. The stores also feature wider aisles, non-slippery floors, single serving packages, a meeting area, lower product displays, free taxi calls and call buttons on the shelf if you need help.
The UK Winchester School of Art’s Design for Aging Exhibition presented seven creative solutions for supermarket environment design. The research done for the exhibition found the main difficulties for older consumers in the UK and China were:
- Items placed too high or low (N=44)
- Narrow passageways (N=44)
- Unclear signage (N=44)
Universal design practices have the capacity to improve older adults’ quality of life by helping them perform the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, and therefore, assist individuals with aging in place.