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Prof. Ron Nabarro: Provision for the Elderly: Age-friendly Design

Peking University, Oct. 17, 2014: “Designers fail to do a good job in age-friendly products. Some of them show little interest in data and never probe into the problems of the elders”, said professor Ron Nabarro, an internationally famous industrial designer, in his recent speech at Peking University(PKU), “what designers should do is making progress step by step”.

The speech, “Provision for the Elderly: Age-friendly Design”, was delivered at PKU on October 9th as one of the Detao Talks during the 2014 PKU International Cultural Festival. Professor Nabarro shared his study on as well as anticipation for age-friendly products and their future during the speech.

Prof. Nabarro in his speech

Professor Nabarro opened his speech by introducing the aging trend. The market of products for the elderly will expand due to the great demand in western countries. Also, developing countries like China will import a great amount of products. Professor Nabarro also emphasized the analysis of research data. From line charts he concluded that the logic thinking capability of the elderly declines significantly as they are aging. Designers should take into consideration the applicability of the products for the elderly, stressed professor Nabarro.

In a study with 350 elderly participants in Germany, 92% admitted they had come across problems with designs, said professor Nabarro. He pointed out that designers had the aging discrimination when designing. One example was “package anger”, which indicates the inconvenience of opening packages for the elderly because of unreasonable designs.

Having learned the shortage of current products, Professor Nabarro put forward the idea of age-friendly design. He showed some barrier-free products such as knobs avoiding knocking injuries and stairs with slopes provided for wheelchairs. Elders do not fear technology, said professor Nabarro, however, deficiencies in design and the incapability of logical thinking of the elderly hinder them in learning and using technology. By combining barrier-free designs with technology, the age-friendly products will provide necessary help and avoid accidents and injuries. Financial losses will be lessened. Also, the elderly can live independently and feel satisfied for not using products only for old people.

“As a designer, you should use their (the elders) language to describe a thing, not to teach them a new language”, said professor Nabarro at the end of his speech.

Background Information:

PKU International Cultural Festival starts from 2004 and has been held annually for ten years till now. It is aimed to display exotic customs and enhance international and multicultural communication at PKU. The theme of the 11th festival is “Novel, Enthusiastic, Wide”.

De Tao Group is a knowledge-and-innovation-oriented conglomerate. It aims to congregate world-class masters, collect industrial wisdom, nurture professional elites, and fuel corporate development. Since 2010, DeTao has recruited over 500 masters from diverse industrial background including industrial design, visual arts, innovative education, new media, etc.

Professor Ron Nabarro is a world-famous master of industrial design as well as entrepreneur, researcher and educator. He is the winner of the World Technology Network award 2009 in design and also jury member for many international design competitions like Red dot Germany and India Financial Times Design Award.

Written by: Xiao Yunyun

Edited by: Yan Shengnan

Source: PKU News(Chinese)