The 2020 Challenge | Second SessionOnline debate: Aging, a challenge and a current need for design

On Wednesday, July 1 at 6 pm, the second session of the online debate “Ageing, a challenge and a current need for design” will take place within the framework of the 2020 Challenge “Design for All / Design for the Elderly” promoted by the IDB20.

The interventions of our special guests for this conversation, put on the table relevant issues to address the central theme of the 2020 Challenge: design and aging.

Service designer Fanny Fernández drew attention to the practices of design when it comes to approaching people. For Fanny it is fundamental that we put in people’s hands the first ideas, the first models. The answers and information that emerge from the direct interaction with the artifacts we design, help not only in the validation of the general aspects of use, but fundamentally to clear the ideas of what we assume. Shorten the distance between what is prescribed and what actually happens.

The architect Heitor García Lantarón, from Denmark, makes a historical review of the concept of old age and connects it with universal design. For Heitor, who recognizes the effect of scale in the scenarios that we propose from the design, there are ideas that are used to talk about the same thing but that assume totally different things. The difference between accessibility and usability has distracted the focus from architecture to the detriment of universal design. In the first one, access and circulation are guaranteed, but everything we use inside the buildings compromises usability.

Portuguese designer and researcher Renato Bispo, our third guest in the dialogue, refers to the need to take a deeper look at the symbolic level of the proposals. Here he refers to the aspects of meaning that the artifacts produce; to the layer of semantics that transcends the struggle between beauty and functionality; to the contents that we communicate. Here, Renato calls for good design practices for well-being, without forgetting what has been at the core of communication theories: it is not possible not to communicate.

This online dialogue triggered many questions, which highlight the relevance of the topic at hand: design and old age. It was clear, in all the interventions, that this old idea of ‘design for people’ is much more powerful when we talk about the elderly. In design for older people there is little room for assumptions. This conversation also poses new challenges for educational institutions: how do we integrate these concepts of sensitivity and empathy into design exercises?

This debate will be held with the coordinators of the 2020 Challenge, Ignacio Urbina, an industrial designer specialized in Bionics, professor at the Pratt Institute; Charo Carril, PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Vigo and Master in Digital Arts from the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona and Ligia Lópes, industrial designer and PhD in design from the Faculty of Architecture in Lisbon, and will be presented by Gloria Escribano, coordinator of the Ibero-American Design Biennial in Madrid.

In this second part, the speakers meet again to exchange questions and queries from interested parties.

Our experts

Fanny Fernández

User researcher and service designer, she currently works at the Ageinglab Laboratory of the Biomedical Technology Center of the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

She has a degree in Fine Arts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, studied design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Schwäbisch Gmünd and specialized in Interaction Design and User-Centered Design. His work is focused on the design of products and services aimed at promoting active aging focused on User-Centered Design.

She has worked in sectors as diverse as telemedicine, corporate banking, mobile application development and collaborates as a UX and User Research professor for companies and institutions.

Heitor García Lantarón

Specialist in Design and Aging, Doctor of Architecture from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM) of the Universidad Politécnica (UPM), with a Thesis on Housing Models for the Elderly. He is currently responsible for Architectural Design at Matia Foundation and lives between San Sebastian and Copenhagen due to his collaboration with the Danish Building Research Institute (SBi) and his teaching work, both at the Danish Institute for Studies Abroad (DIS), and in the Online Courses of the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU).
His academic and professional interest is focused on the challenges we face due to the continuous aging process, but understanding these challenges as an opportunity to improve the architectural quality of the environment at any stage of life and in the face of any disability.
García Lantarón has developed his teaching work as an assistant at the ETSAM and at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (UFV) and has worked professionally independently and has collaborated in various prestigious firms such as Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland) or Nieto y Sobejano arquitectos (Spain). He has participated in conferences at IMSERSO, CEAPAT, ETSAM and UPV, as well as in conferences organized by the Nordic Research Network in Urbanism and Housing (NSBB) or the ARCH17 Conference in Denmark.

Renato Bispo

Doctor in Design, Head of the LIDA – Laboratory of Research in Design and Arts, Coordinator of the Master’s Program in Product Design and Assistant Professor in the field of product design at the School of Arts and Design of Caldas da Rainha (ESAD.CR) where he has been teaching since 2001. Bispo explores a humanized design approach, in which human diversity assumes a central role in the development of new products. Over the past 20 years he has conducted research in the area of inclusive design, focusing on the development of anti-stigmatizing products related to aging and disability, which has led him to publish several books and international scientific publications. He has coordinated and participated in several projects, holds workshops and regularly presents his work at conferences.

2ª sesión- Debate online

The 2020 Challenge | First SessionOnline dialogue: Aging, a challenge and a necessity for design today

On Wednesday June 17 at 6 pm, within the framework of the Challenge “Design for all / Design for the elderly” promoted by the BID20, the online dialogue “Ageing, a challenge and a current need for design” took place, with the aim of inspiring the participants registered and bringing the interested public closer to this topic that is increasingly becoming a central theme in the discipline itself and what this approach can bring to society.

Together, we reflected on the theme that calls us to this 2020 Challenge in the hands of experts from different disciplines: Fanny Fernández, researcher at the Biomedical Technology Center of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid; Heitor García Lantarón, specialist in Design and Aging, responsible for Architectural Design at the Matia Foundation; and Renato Bispo, Director of the LIDA – Design and Arts Research Laboratory and professor at the Escola Superior de Artes e Design de Caldas da Rainha.
Moderated by Ignacio Urbina, industrial designer specialized in Bionics, professor at the Pratt Institute and coordinator of the 2020 Challenge together with Charo Carril (Arte Diez) and Ligia Lópes (Universidade de Aveiro / Universidade do Porto).

With this virtual chat we had the opportunity to gather visions of experts in the field of design for the elderly, addressing it from various perspectives and fields of work.

Fanny Fernández: “We design to solve problems, so we have to know the people we design for.”

It is important to incorporate the needs of older people into the profile of the service/product we are designing; allowing users to participate in the design process from the beginning. In particular, when designing for older people, possible functional limitations, such as reduced vision or motor difficulties, must be taken into account when designing solutions. For this reason it is essential to test the solutions and observe how the elderly interact with our products.

Heitor García Lantarón: “Older people are a complex, diverse and increasingly active group that is present in society, therefore the solutions we provide must be valid for all these options. The supply must be as varied as the demand.”

In a few years the elderly will be a very large social group in our society, so inevitably the solutions we provide will become majority solutions. This new user profile demands a greater participation, it needs to incorporate new relationships with the urban environment, that the dimensions of the elements that compose the house are revised, as well as the relationships and distributions between the rooms. This requires some responsibility, since the growing interest of the real estate market towards the elderly is a great opportunity to integrate, in a quality architecture, many principles of inclusive design, eliminating future expenses derived from functional adaptation. In this way we will participate in a change, benefiting other more disadvantaged groups and thus achieving generational equality. As architects, we cannot let this opportunity pass us by.

Renato Bispo: "The change of mentality is the basis for changing reality."

Social transformations always begin by being, at first, narrative reformulations, utopias that are sought or visions that are constructed. The speculative nature of design, as well as its capacity for synthesis, places designers in a privileged position for this task of symbolic transformation of the world that precedes real transformation.

Primera parte del Diálogo online

Segunda parte del Diálogo online


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