Like it or not, we’re all aging, every day. You’re aging, I’m aging, and there’s nothing we can do about it. This might sound threatening, but it doesn’t have to be. The ominous cast our society puts on the very concept of getting older is a social construct; a prison of our own making. If we reframed aging and built a world that supported seniors instead of hampering them, humans would live fuller, longer lives, and grow old with vitality.
These are a few of the themes addressed in the Design Museum’s newest exhibition, The Future of Ageing, which opened in London last week. This collaboration with the Design Age Institute explores “how design is transforming the way society can support everyone to age with greater agency and joy.” The immersive and participatory experiences baked into the exhibition’s display invite visitors to interrogate stereotypes, assumptions, and misconceptions about aging and the elderly. Diverse communities of seniors share a wide range of stories, encouraging participants to reflect upon their own aging and future selves.
The hashtag #WeAreAllAgeing is the rallying cry behind The Future of Aging, bolstering statistics such as the fact that by 2040, more than a quarter of the UK’s population will be over the age of 60, with over 70% fit and healthy with no need for social care or support. And according to the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, a person born today is expected to live to around 104. In response to these realities, The Future of Ageing showcases prototypes, sketches, and research from six design projects that are being developed by Design Age Institute and its partners.
These designs include innovations such as The Centaur from Centaur Robotics Ltd, a personal electric vehicle (PEV) that represents the opportunities to expand the mobility market. “I want to end the social isolation resulting from reduced mobility,” said Paul Campbell, the Design Director at Centaur Robotics. “And I believe good design can do that.”
Then there’s Gita, a hands-free cargo-carrying robot made by Piaggio Fast Forward, and Home Office to Age in Place, a mobile lighting, power, and storage solution that allows any table to be converted into a proper workstation to facilitate independent working in later life. In addition to these product features, the exhibition includes a digital audioscape by Kennedy Woods intended to engage visitors with their aural health and destigmatize hearing loss. Another component of the comprehensive show is Growing Together, which explores the possibility of launching a multigenerational garden at the Design Museum in partnership with the non-profit public works.
You can visit The Future of Ageing free of charge at the Design Museum through September 25th. Plan your visit now, UK residents! You’re not getting any younger, after all.