Tag Archives: inclusive design

Design Museum – New Old Exhibition

Pop up exhibition on ageing

Photography by Luke Hayes

We recently had the pleasure of attending this intriguing pop-up exhibition at the new home of the London Design Museum in Kensington. London always poses a challenge for us in finding Blue Badge parking for my wheelchair, but we were fortunate on this occasion when a quick call to the museum before we left, allowed us to park right outside the door. They do not have dedicated parking for Blue Badge card holders and when we arrived, there was a little confusion with security but in the end, they kindly let us park.

The New Old exhibition is free admission and kept us busy for a few hours. Our sixteen year old daughter also came with us and she seemed to enjoy the experience too. The exhibition rethinks the design approach to ageing, and looks at how design can help the ageing population lead fuller, happier, healthier and more rewarding lives. The exhibition is Curated by Jeremy Myerson, and Helen Hamlyn, Professor of Design at the Royal College of Art.

The exhibition is organised into six sections – Ageing, Identity, Home, Community, Working and Mobility. Each section features a special design commission by a leading designer or design team, creating new solutions for demographic change as well as addressing the challenges of age.

There were a few activities, which encouraged you to participate in their research. One invites you to complete a card, stating your age and then what age that you considered people to be ‘old’, and any comments to support your thinking. You then displayed your card on a huge board with hooks for all to read. It was a really interesting exercise and you were able to read the cards and opinions of others. It did seem that the younger you were, the lower the age that you predicted old age to begin. It will be interesting to hear the results!

Scooter For life with shopping trolley

Scooter for Life

New Old showcases concept designs such as Scooter For Life by PriestmanGoode which encourages people to stay active for longer. The fun modern design is critical to dispel the stigma of ageing.

illustration of scooter for life

Credit: PriestmanGoode

Paro, a soft robotic interactive therapy toy was also on display, designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan. Paro is widely recognised as one of the most therapeutic devices in the world, helping comfort older people with dementia.  Paro moves and behaves like a normal animal, it vibrates and winks and responds to being stroked. People with dementia form an attachment to it for comfort and companionship. The robotics industry is being fuelled by the Japanese, who have not allowed migrants into their country and now have an overwhelming problem of an ageing population with no-one to care for them.

Paro robotic seal dementia

Paro Robotic Seal

Arthritis Research UK are one of the sponsors of the exhibition and it is estimated that around 10 million people in the UK are affected by arthritis or related conditions and the number climbs as the population ages. Arthritis Research UK is not just active in supporting medical research for breakthrough treatments, but also encouraging  innovative design to meet the daily living needs of people with arthritis. The exhibition showcased some award winning products such as the Ezi-Plug which aids the ease of use for people with arthritis in their hands, also for those with sight loss. The socket switches off automatically when the plug is removed

Plug socket for arthritis

Award winning Ezi-Plug

Another design being exhibited was the Handy Fasteners, a set of magnetic buttons that can be retro-fitted to any garment, helpful for anyone with arthritis, parkinson’s disease and many other related or neurological conditions.

Maintaining mobility, social inclusion, universal design and adaptable housing are all vital for an ageing population and so the exhibition looks at the progress other countries are making in this area which may provide working models for the UK to follow.

The New Old Exhibition looks at how the Japanese transport system has set new standards in universal design when it opened in 2005 following ten years of development. Its spaces and services are wheelchair friendly and each station has its own colour, wall material and and unique symbol to help people with cognitive impairment.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian government has an ambitious goal to make the country more age-friendly and to better harness the contribution that older people can make to society. The exhibition shows examples of universal design projects in action in Norway, from healthcare to transport, and public space to learning.

As our population ages, the world really needs to work together, sharing ideas and experiments, to make our individual countries a more welcoming age-friendly space for the elderly. This will ensure that our older people remain independent, whether through design, technology or social inclusion. The New Old exhibition is really worth a visit to see the progress, concepts and ideas that are being explored and in many cases already implemented as a vision for the future.

New Old exhibition is at the London Design Museum, running until the 19th February 2017.

 

 

Self Lacing Shoes and Footwear for Disability

Putting on a pair of shoes can be a daily struggle and a chore if you are disabled or elderly.  But shoe designers are coming up with some interesting, futuristic designs that could help make life easier.

As a result of an open letter sent  by a teenager with Cerebral Palsy, Nike have developed a cool pair of trainers designed for people with disabilities. Matthew Walzer, then 16, wrote asking Nike to make a pair of accessible shoes that would provide support and a closure system that could be used by everyone.

Nike Flyease

Nike Flyease trainers

In his letter, Matthew said “Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes. Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes. My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday”

In response to his plea, Nike have developed Flyease, a trainer that uses a wrap around zipper system to secure the shoe, whilst a larger opening has been created to make it easier to slide the foot in and out.

In a posting on the Nike website, designer Tinker Hatfield said “While varying levels of mobility make it difficult to provide a universal solution, we feel this is a significant development for anyone who has ever struggled with independently securing their foot within Nike shoes.” Matthew responded by saying “There are not enough ‘thank yous’ in the world to express my undying gratitude.”

Limited quantities of the LeBron Soldier 8 FLYEASE are now available on Nike.com website.

 

Japanese footwear designer Masaya Hashimoto has joined forces with Italian shoe maker Vibram to create the Vibram Furoshiki; a minimalist piece of footwear that has been described as Origami for the feet.

Vibram-furoshiki shoes

Vibram Furoshiki

Furoshiki-Vibram-shoes-stretch

Furoshiki is the traditional Japanese technique of cloth wrapping which is still used today for gift wrapping and transporting goods. This ancient technique has been used to create a minimalist piece of footwear with an innovative and anatomical grip sole that literally wraps the shoe in place. This is a really interesting concept which may help those with limited hand dexterity. You could imagine they would feel like second skin footwear; whether they will be waterproof or more of a slipper shoe is unclear but we will watch the shoe’s progress with interest.

 

Later this year, Nike is planning to release the Nike AIr MAG, a pair of self-lacing shoes, inspired by the time travel film  ’Back to the Future II’ worn by the fictional character Marty McFly when he is transported in the movie to 2015.

nike-mag-2015-release

Nike Air MAG

Rollers embedded in the sole of the Nike Air MAG  would be activated by a control system which senses weight in the sole of the shoe. The power laces then respond by tightening and wrapping themselves around the shoe. Teasers have been dropped recently by Nike’s designer Tinker Hatfield as to the launch date later this year for the Air MAG so watch this space…