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This Age Thing

Based at the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD), the Design Age Institute (DAI) was established in 2020 to support the UK Government’s Grand Challenge on an Ageing Society. Each of these new initiatives forms part of the Institute’s mission to amplify the voice of people as they age and create a thriving economy for aspirational products and services that support healthy ageing. These products and services will enable individuals and communities to maintain an active and joyful life at every age. 

The Design Age Directory is a national directory for design and healthy ageing. The directory will serve as a showcase of UK talent, pointing to this area across service providers and product developers looking to tap into the enormous potential of the longevity economy. Through facilitating collaboration, the Design Age Directory aims to bring together leaders and innovators to support a thriving marketplace. UK designers with experience in design for ageing and inclusive design can join the directory for free here.

This Age Thing brings together a community of designers, businesses, service-providers, researchers, policy-makers, and ageing humans to celebrate ageing and challenge negative stereotypes. This Age Thing will celebrate and amplify positive stories about getting older, strive for justice and equality and co-create solutions that respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society.

The DAI will also work with industry partners to develop and bring towards market 16 pathfinder projects that deliver innovative products and services that enable people to enjoy five extra healthy, independent years of life and to remain at work for longer. The DAI will provide and facilitate seed funding, design research, opportunity scoping and mentoring, as well as connecting projects with design experts. The pathfinder projects will address seven key priorities: mobility, health, social connection, working life, financial services, the home and ageism. One of the pathfinder projects is a collaboration with Centaur Robotics who have developed a two-wheeled personal electronic vehicle (PEV) to enhance the mobility of older people. The DAI are working with Centaur Robotics on design of proximity avoidance technology. By making the Centaur Robotics PEV a more appealing product for both existing wheelchair users and those who haven't considered using a wheelchair before, there is significant opportunity to expand the mobility market.

Centaur Robotics

“For the Design Age Institute to help truly shape the future of ageing, creating a network and community of people, companies and organisations aligned with the same goals is vital. Initiatives such as The Design Age Directory, pathfinder projects, and This Age Thing will allow us to bring together different expertise and experiences to participate in important dialogues and develop some of the inclusively designed products and services that will help all of us to age happier and healthier.”

Colum Lowe Director, The Design Age Institute

Funded in 2020 by Research England, The Design Age Institute partnership brings together skills and expertise from world-leading organisations in research, design, innovation and learning – the UK's National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University, the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, the International Longevity Centre and Design Museum.

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Design Age Institute