#51 Accessible Design

Possibly the largest generational group, the baby boomers, are rapidly approaching retirement, or ‘the third age’ as some call it. We know that 50% of people over the age of 65 will develop at least one impairment, from vision loss to hearing impairments or more restricted mobility. However this group is wishing to stay more active than ever as they age; with disposable income after a lifetime of hard work, they want to travel, play sport, and make the most of what the world has to offer.

A recent study conducted in the Greater Wellington Region found that by 2026, the number of people over 65 will be greater than those under 15.  Therefore the opportunity for businesses and communities to ensure holistic accessibility has never been so important. In a tough economic climate, retailers and service providers have an immediate opportunity to ensure that they retain these customers as they age and require greater accessibility.

Kenneth Grange's Edith ChairProduct designers around the world have already seized this opportunity and are not only creating accessible products that cater for older peoples’ needs, but that are also trendy, opening them up to a market beyond the baby boomer generation.

Kenneth Grange is one of the world’s greatest designers whose creations now feature in our everyday lives. From the world’s first parking meter, to the instamatic camera, the iconic London black taxis and the domestic iron, Grange’s products are clever, unique, and revolutionary.

 And Grange’s latest product is no different. Furniture maker Hitch Mylius recognised this worldwide aging trend and also identified that seating for older people is often uncomfortable and pretty ugly. So they set Grange the task of creating a comfortable chair for older people that was also aesthetically impressive. Grange himself has recently had knee-joint replacements so is particularly interested in avoiding and alleviating pain through the use of trendy, yet comfortable furniture.

This is just one example of how accessibility in design is a consideration that can positively affect all people. Why wouldn’t we all just buy this beautiful chair for our homes so that we can be comfortable and stylish at the same time?

So the next time you are designing or redeveloping a product or service, think about the third age and accessibility. You may just stumble across the next greatest invention for our world.

Oh the possabilities of accessibility!