(International Culture Festival & DeTao Lecture Series) Professor Ron Nabarro: Aged-Friendly Design – Design Blessing for the Aged
(Editor’s note) The year 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Peking University’s International Culture Festival. As the event starts its latest journey, we are excited for a new beginning, and look forward to showcasing our dynamic performances. Over the coming year, our desire for originality will help kick-start the enterprise. It is our dream to reach new levels of achievement, and that dream remains our drive. This new world in which we are heading offers an ocean of infinite possibilities. Creativity, however abundant, is not reserved for exceptional individuals; it is a passion for life which exists within us all. Over the course of our journey, we are discovering new frontiers and embracing the new world with an unparalleled fervor. With the 11th International Culture Festival set to begin, we are excited to make a true difference to innovation and awaken your creative senses!
DeTao Lecture Series – Dialogue with Global Innovative Masters was incorporated into the public selective courses of Peking University in 2013. Jointly sponsored by DeTao, PKU College of Engineering and PKU Office of International Relations, the lecture series was presented as a key event of the 2014 Culture Festival. Viewed as a landmark for the past few years, it has helped usher in a new starting point for a new decade. Let’s take a look at the sages’ insights provided by the Festival.
On the evening of Oct. 9, Professor Ron Nabarro, world renowned industrial designer and DeTao Master of Industrial Design and Design Management Education, delivered a stimulating lecture on ‘Aged-Friendly Design – Design Blessing for the Aged’. As an installment of the DeTao Lecture Series, the Professor shared his research findings on aged-friendly products and offered his unique insights into the future of design.
Starting with a detailed analysis on the trend of ageing, Professor Nabarro elaborated on the market outlook of future products, expressing that aged-friendly commodities would enjoy greater market access among the West’s ageing community. The domestic consumption market, he explained, was growing steadily, and developing countries like China were purchasing large quantities of the West’s manufactured goods. According to Professor Nabarro, this factor placed extra importance on aged-friendly design and its impact on the world. The Professor cited details of daily life and offered an in-depth breakdown of typical products. By defining seniority from the perspectives of physical age, health age, mental age and lifestyle age, he then moved on to estimate the prospective change in the older population while demonstrating the age growth and reduced ability in using products and reasoning. This necessity for aged-friendly design was a growing subject amongst the community, and required more attention than it was currently receiving.
While demonstrating the usefulness of existing products, Professor Nabarro drew attention to several designs which discriminated against the elderly – one product in particular being the difficult-to-open packing bags. The Professor went on to explain that a recent survey of 350 German senior citizens showed 92% had experienced difficulties with current products. According to Professor Nabarro, such problems were a direct fault of designers: ‘Designers are directly to blame for their failed products as they often underestimate the importance of statistical research and skip the necessary analysis into the daily encounters of senior citizens. We must not forget that it is up to designers to make progress in this field, no matter how gradual the process.’
While acknowledging a number of insufficient designs, Professor Nabarro proposed the philosophy of a more aged-friendly approach and demonstrated more straightforward products, such as bump-proof doorknobs and accessible staircases for wheelchairs. The Professor held the opinion that the combination of age and technology should not result in complexity. Senior citizens, he stressed, were not scared of technology per se, but it was more a case of them being outperformed due to their difference in thinking and the unfriendly products at hand. With the combination of accessible design and technology, aged-friendly products, he explained, would also help prevent future injuries. Injuries experienced by elders, the Professor pointed out, often compromised independent living which in turn led to additional government expenditure. So, in addition to providing physical comfort, such products also provided psychological relief, removing the stress associated with the very idea of using such day-to-day items.
After the lecture, Professor Nabarro gave detailed responses to the students’ questions. Finally, he noted, ‘You should describe something with the language of designers rather than trying to teach them a new language.’
International Culture Festival of Peking University: Since its inception in 2004, the Festival has sought to develop the global vision of young people and create a harmonious and global campus. It embodies the productive international exchange and cooperation of PKU while highlighting the university’s preservation of legacy and global orientation. With a variety of events, the Festival showcases the charisma of both local and international students, giving itself a broader platform accessible to all. Over the past decade, the Festival has featured three key themes, titled ‘Dance of Spring’, ‘Melody of Autumn,’ and ‘Rhythm of Joy’. As the Olympics gripped the nation, such memories are now uniting the people and ushering in a new journey. With the theme ‘New Starting Point, New Dream, New World’, the 11th Festival of 2014 is embarking on a new journey of culture and learning.
DeTao: Congregate the worlds’ leading Masters, collect the industrial wisdom of the world, nurture professional elites, and improve the development of prosperous business. DeTao is a knowledge-and-innovation-oriented conglomerate. Its portfolio targets cultural education and innovative industry while aiming to transform the cutting-edge wisdom of global Masters into practical productivity. Since 2010, over 500 industry Masters have entered into agreements of cooperation with DeTao and established over 150 Master studios, covering subjects of green architecture, environmental protection, industrial design, cinematic art and animation, as well as exhibition economy.
Professor Ron Nabarro: World renowned industrial designer, DeTao Master of Industrial Design and Design Management Education, professor, industrial designer, entrepreneur, researcher, co-founder and President of Senior-Touch Ltd. His research covers design management, product design industrial design and design for the aged. He is the recipient of 24 awards, including the prestigious World Technology Network Design Award 2009. Furthermore, he serves as a jury member for numerous international design competitions including the Red Dot Germany and India Financial Times Design Award. Throughout his career, he has appeared in many print publications, consulted a wide variety of organizations and takes the time to speak regularly at international events.