Looking to the future to find the art of ageing well - Francesca Bibby

It’s an irrefutable fact that we are all ageing. We are also living longer; in fact, by 2040 more than a quarter of the UK’s population will be over the age of 60, and a person born today is expected to live to 104.

As we age, we are leading healthier and more active lives than previous generations.So how are these facts informing designers as they look to create products and experiences that allow us to not only age well, but to thrive?At V&A Dundee we’re showcasing how designers are reimagining products, services and experiences to enhance the experience of later life.Curated by Design Age Institute in collaboration with the Design Museum, The Future of Ageing exhibition features a selection of prototypes, sketches and research from projects that are being developed by Design Age Institute and its partners. These explore how design is transforming the way society can support everyone to age with greater agency and joy.For too long we have viewed the ageing process as a time of life associated only with negative experiences such as illness and infirmity. The truth is that there is no single experience of ageing.By challenging common assumptions around of “old age”, The Future of Ageing allows us to think about how we will all experience the ageing process; not only how it might impact our lives but also to consider the positive aspects of later life.Among the objects and experiences featured in The Future of Ageing are The Centaur, a self-balancing, two-wheeled personal electric vehicle for people with difficulties getting around and Gita, a hands-free cargo-carrying robot. “Home Office to Age in Place” is a project which looks at integrating flexible living and working spaces for later life, while the Hearing Birdsong digital 'audioscape' app uses the sound of birdsong to engage visitors with their hearing health.The design of these objects has been carefully considered, with many having been co-designed in collaboration with older communities.It’s also important to take a cross-generational approach. Even younger people are ageing, and we need to design a world that works better for everyone, allowing each individual to approach ageing with a greater sense of optimism that they can retain independence and continue to make the most of life.Victoria Patrick from The Design Age Institute says: “We are delighted to see The Future of Ageing exhibit open in its new location at the V&A Dundee. Ageing is something that we all have in common, and we look forward to involving visitors and local communities from Dundee in the conversation around how the transformative power of design can help everyone to grow older with greater agency and joy.”At V&A Dundee, we're thrilled to be sharing such innovative projects and research with our visitors. The Design Museum and The Design Age Institute have curated a thought-provoking exhibition which encourages us all to consider both the challenges and opportunities we experience later in life, as well as the vital role of design in creating a more age-inclusive world.The Future of Ageing is a free exhibition in the Locke Hall of V&A Dundee, running until Saturday, January 21, 2023.www.vam.ac.uk/dundee/exhibitions/the-future-of-ageing

Francesca Bibby, Assistant Curator at V&A Dundee

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