Design Research

Our research initiatives aim to create new knowledge and impact on design for healthy ageing through interdisciplinary academic design research.

Design Research

Our Research Vision

Our research builds on thirty years of experience from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD) relating to the needs of older people, but is also distinct and generative, consolidating learnings and creating new knowledge across Design Age Institute’s activities and projects.

We have the following ambitions:

  • Position design within gerontology and the wider research landscape, including theoretical frameworks, methods and tools for design for healthy ageing.
  • Establish research into lived experience to ensure that the voices of older people, diversity and different ways of ageing are at the heart of future research collaborations, through a people-centred and inclusive approach, thereby addressing inequality.
  • Explore enabling environments and spatial inclusion in an ageing society, helping older people to live independently in their homes, neighbourhoods and society.
  • Explore technology futures to humanise emerging technology through inclusive and speculative design for older people.
  • Identify specialist design expertise for exploiting higher education institution research more effectively.
  • Influence policy-making in design-related areas, including housing, public planning, social care and healthcare, enabling a shift from crisis to aspiration through design guidance.

Our research partner is the University of Oxford’s Institute of Population Ageing.

If you are interested in collaborating - get in touch!

Research Areas

Explore some of our current research areas below.

Lived Experience Research

Lived Experience Research

Objective

Explore different and diverse ways of growing older in the United Kingdom through Lived Experience research, to ensure that the voices of older people are at the heart of our research, moving beyond stereotypes and representations.

Approach 

Applying a people-centred and inclusive design approach, this qualitative primary research will utilise the design research method ‘cultural probes’ and follow-up interviews to gain in-depth knowledge.

Tools & Methods Research

Tools & Methods Research

Objective 

Position design research in gerontology and the wider research landscape through developing a methodological knowledge base. Also, informing new tools and methods, including those for conducting remote research e.g. for the Lived Experience research and future user research.

Approach 

Systematic archive review of the extensive number of design  tools and methods developed at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design over the last three decades.

Spatial Inclusion and Enabling Environments

Spatial Inclusion and Enabling Environments

Objective

Explore how different types of environments enable spatial inclusion in an ageing society, helping older people to live independently in their homes, neighbourhoods and society.

Approach 

Theoretical research focusing on Spatial Inclusion and Enabling Environments, including fields such as Environmental Gerontology.

Technology Futures Research

Technology Futures Research

Objective 

Explore Technology Futures to humanise emerging digital technology through inclusive and speculative design for older people, creating credible preferable Technology Futures for ageing societies.

Approach 

Explore emerging digital technologies for inclusive Technology Futures through interdisciplinary design-computing research, including Technology Foresight and Roadmapping. Understanding their potential for equitable socially-sustainable inclusive digital cultures.

Design Expertise Research

Design Expertise Research

Objective

Understand specialist design expertise for exploiting higher education institution research more effectively for older people.

 Approach 

Identify inclusive design expertise available nationally, in both industry and academia, to address the challenges of ageing societies. Also, supporting recruitment for a National Directory of design expertise.