Don’t Design Down, Especially Not With Cane Swords

This isn’t something you hear a lot: designing for specific ages. Well, okay, maybe you hear about it for children, because, let’s face it, things for kids are cute and small and we’re getting all sorts of sappy goosebumps just talking about it. But, on the other end of the life spectrum (we just made that phrase up, so don’t go stealing it), you don’t hear much about designing for the elderly. That’s what made this republished article from ’91 in the RSA Journal, “Design and Elderly People” so interesting. The overall message? Don’t treat the elderly like idiots. It’s about that blatant. And thus, makes for a very compelling read. Here’s a short bit from the start:

Elderly people are not disabled. A shoe or saucepan designed for a disabled foot or hand is unlikely to suit an elderly foot or hand. Provided elderly people are considered at the right stage, all products should be suitable for young and old. “Design for the young and you exclude the old. Design for the old and you include the young,” said Professor Bernard Isaacs, of The Centre for Applied Gerontology, Birmingham.