It is said America may grow by 100 million in population by 2050.
And obviously they won't all be young people.
A large number of aging populace will be in that growing number.
It's already a challenge to manage isolation of older people and integration of them in society and that was before COVID-19 brought in Greater isolation, now,
I've got three guests who are gonna have some really interesting ideas about this all of them from and associated with the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in Southern California.
Penny herskovits is Associate Professor in Environmental Design at art center.
Susie Moon is an interaction design major at the Art Center as is Dylan ci.
And both Susie and Dylan are part of the design matters section at art center which is the social and humanitarian design department.
At the Art Center, so a lot of interesting vectors here about design for the right reasons, not just for its own ends.
Let me start with you penny a big picture here.
When we talk about design for people that are older Or aging.
Why is that different than it is for younger people?
I'm asking the stupid question, but I like to start there.
Well, it's great to start with the basics.
And I think in some ways, it's not different from design for younger people.
I think that's something that we try to We try to keep in mind is that we are designing for a continuum of people.
We are all aging, right?
Even our younger students here with us are aging.
And that's something that we say is that we're not designing for other people when we're designing for older people we're designing for.
If we're lucky, our future selves.
Let me go to you, Susie.
In the work that you've been doing, I've seen some samples of what you and Dylan have been working on in terms of creating spaces for people that are elderly or aging.
And a lot of it has to do with integration of generations.
Tell me about the importance of that.
We believe that younger generation should be involved in designing of living spaces for the elderly.
In order to bridge that gap between generations, we learned how the environment can actually help foster these relationships and create these shared experiences.
So, in our project, we were hoping to design living space.
Cases that can offer the opportunity to interact with younger generations and share these stories and learn from each other, socialize and build relationships.
So that was our goal.
A lot of it sort of, revolved around our key stakeholder which was the leader of wise and healthy aging in Santa Monica.
She had mentioned that nobody wants to go to the island of old age.
Nobody wants to go to a place that is designed just for them.
So in our co creative exercise where she was drawing out her dream space, we realized that a lot of the concepts revolved around just being this place that you go to normally.
Like you would go to a library.
Like you would go to a Starbucks.
Our concept that we've developed with Hannah Kwan and Judy Lee, over the course of 14 weeks was to embed a community cafe where we would take the gardening aspect to cooking together.
To eating together and sharing stories through something like the human book project.>> It was one interesting part of something that you and Susie worked on.
That got to the idea of how generations can live together in my terms, without wanting to kill each other.
What are some of the things about design that can make it easier for generations to live together without fraying each other's nerves?
There's sort of the physical space Which right now is really difficult to change.
And there's the mental headspace as well.
A lot of our work over the course of the 14 weeks was actually thinking about the caregiver.
And we we use the word caregiver just to say that this is their primary role, but also acknowledging that it's a continuum of you're not always in that role.
You're also receiving care from other people.
So we referred to the elderly as a. Care receivers.
So, as a caregiver, nobody is really meant to provide hundred percent of their being to another person and over the course of 14 weeks, listening to people like these people mentally and physically exhaust themselves to the point where it's causing harm about themselves.
And the care receiver.
So a lot of our thinking was how do we provide respite to the caregivers so that they can take better care and be in better spirits around there?
So some of our concepts revolved around looking at the IKEA model for daycare centres and like what would that look like if we took this 20 to 40 minute period where you're outside of the house to separate the care receiver and the caregiver into a daycare situation or activity situation and then the character Giver is able to go about their day and do shopping and play many different places.
Susie Dylan just mentioned the concept of a continuum and that's one of three concepts I noticed in one of your bodies of work at all.
Also includes relationship and alleviates one of those other two relationship and alleviate referred to as you guys do this kind of design work
for the relationship we were really essentially eating how our Co creation with the coordinator at wise and healthy aging mentioned how we shouldn't be creating these islands of old age.
So this relationship that we were trying to create through this space was to create this interaction where they would have this shared activity to have these shared experiences.
So that's something that we were trying to.
Cover with relationship and then for alleviating.
We wanted to really show how through our research we found that care receivers were suffering and not able to actually, Express themselves or have someone to be able to be there for support.
So just creating the space that Dylan was mentioning with this buying space with, where it works with any like Costco or bonds or any, you know, store We can do two things at once and be able to alleviate the stress.
In addition to doing these daily activities that are necessary.
I hear a theme bubbling up if I have this right between what you and Dylan are telling me over the last few minutes that there's a lot of trying to make sure that.
People stay individual and don't end up being merged with each other in a way that is unpleasant where there's exceeding dependence as opposed to remaining individuals but helping each other, is that kind of what's going on here.
The key component that came through through our interviews with care givers and care receivers was that it wasn't about independence anymore.
It's maintaining agency over what you do in your daily life.
So a lot of the physical space that we designed was around how do we make this thing that they used to enjoy?
Like gardening, for example, bringing up the gardening to a level where a wheelchair individual or just not crouched over on the ground individual.
Could enjoy it whether that means also like getting large format books or books on tape, changing activities that into a way that you can still enjoy them now and ultimately through the class we learned that it was that us as designers, we disabled people.
expand on that a little bit more.
We were listening to the, to the coordinator of wise and healthy aging in Santa Monica.
She was detailing out that there is a wave pattern in the cement.
And this is a really specific example.
But the wave pattern and as you age, you tend to look lower and lower at the ground and this actually causes more stress Clipping because we're supposed to be looking at the horizon line.
The tricky thing with the waves and someone without doing any research just put these waves on the ground coz they thought it'd be cool, but it was actually causing some dizzying and making it more difficult things like not building in ramps, not thinking about how might someone who is differently abled than I am To be able to interact with this thing or this physical space.>> Penny, let me ask you about the the orientation that is done with young students who are coming in at the beginning of their career.
And interestingly focusing on people that are at the end of their life.
There's not many Aspects in design that quite have that age bridge, people that design cars tend to design cars for the youngest, most vibrant, most well moneyed sector.
And you could say that about almost every category.
But this one's interesting.
There's there's a mental bridge.
How do you help your students build that since they don't have the actual experience?
Here are three different strategies that we use.
First starts with empathy and compassion.
And it was amazing to me when we heard the reasons why students at art center wanted to participate in this class.
It started very personally it started with their own families, their compassion.
For their aging parents, their aging grandparents, many of whom shared really personal and moving stories of how their parents and grandparents were living with physical disabilities or overcoming health challenges.
And I think that was really a lot of what was driving students like you're saying to design for an audience, very different from themselves is this desire to make an impact and to make change And they feel it really, personally starting from home starting from their own families.
The second step is all about knowledge partnerships.
I think that's something that's absolutely essential as designers is we have to come in with this real humility.
We can't make assumptions that we know the answer.
We know the solution.
Coming in with this curious mindset and partnering, and introducing our students to knowledge partners.
So this class we're partnering with, really some of the best minds in our region, the LA Department of Aging.
They have a incredible, purposeful aging department which is a network and their director came in to give a presentation to our class.
And it was really more than a presentation was an in depth conversation.
We also had incredible guests like rugosa borio, who St.
Barnabas center is focused on the needs of older adults living in poverty.
And truly there's a lot of other issues that can make aged aging, more challenging, whether it's combating racism, xenophobia, living in poverty,
a lot of what's going on these days.
Certainly in California in many parts of the US is figuring out where to place housing and at what density.
Do you guys work on that or do you say Okay, once you guys figure that out, then call us in So we're strategizing from the very beginning.
Don't and Susie's tempted to sit well, there are these pockets that are underused, whether they're parking lots, whether they're kind of retail spaces or malls that are no longer being used or whether they're connected to places that older adults and their caregivers are already Are already going.
So we are being strategic and looking at where we're working.
But we're also being very sensitive to understanding our context and making sure that we're partnered with, for example, the city of Los Angeles Department on aging so that we're making kind of Informed decisions from the beginning.
You mentioned a lot of these partners you're working with.
Let's face it, certainly anyone who goes to other countries, you come back to America, you realize we're not exactly in love with our older population.
I mean, that's not been the story of America, certainly in the post war era, and certainly since the youth revolution of the late 60s, we've become a youth centric culture by and large, so who do you have to excite.
With ideas of design for the elderly and ageing.
That's a really good question.
I think one of one of the things that we're seeing is starting with, with our young students designing that gets everybody excited because I think that these are really like brilliant creative minds who are I'm so interested in connecting with people who have different perspectives from their own.
Also something that's very exciting as designers is designing in LA is this perfect lab to influence the field of aging.
That's something that we learned from our partner from the LA Department of Aging where we are now in LA Where the state of California is gonna be in 10 years and I think California has a reputation, you know, for sorta leading the country in innovation in design, and that innovation can be driven by designing For our aging population,
The world's become a world of plexiglass barriers during COVID.
It reminds us all the time that COVID is creating isolation.
What have you been thinking in the last six to seven months?
we're taping now in September, as you see the world of barriers go up, whether they're opaque or transparent about how this is gonna make your job of designing for aging even harder.
You start with you doing Don't look at it as making it harder I actually feel that the barriers being everywhere is driving everyone to seek a connection which and share stories inspire empathy and each other.
Learn more about each other.
I've never used my phone before in my life the way that I've used it in the last six months in terms of the amount of voice calls and like just just normal non screen interactions of like, let me talk to my neighbour for the first time.
Let me see like look outside my window.
Let's bang some pots and pans to tell everyone that we're alive and we're celebrating the people that are keeping us safe.
And in it's a real world constraint that we have to design with and it's okay.
When you see this world of barriers going up everywhere, temporary and poorly designed as they are.
I'm sure as a designer, you start pulling your hair out and say, first of all, this is so shabby and quick and temporary, but it's obviously for a reason.
What do you see going on in this whole barrier culture that we've been thrust into?
That gets you thinking in any new or reinforced way.
So I think that although these barriers are meant to separate us, it's actually creating a change in our society where we're communicating more through technology or other forms.
So it's actually like helping people be able to use other methods of interacting Which is actually pretty exciting for us as interaction designers.
And I think the goal of the carrier circle project especially was to bring this visibility to the stigmas of aging and if we can do that through other forms of technology that's, that's a dream.
And talking with three really good minds on the idea of designing our spaces and particularly tuning them for those that are aging and as was mentioned more than once That's all of us.
Penny Herscovitch is Associate Professor in Environmental Design at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Southern California.
And has been joined by Susie Moon and Dillon Chi, both are interaction design majors at ArtCenter, as well.