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 30+ 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.
  • 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.

Explore: Design Age Ideas

Dive into our latest report, Design Age Ideas, and get inspired by the role we each have to play in designing better for an ageing population.

Read the report  

Research Activities

Explore some of our current research areas and activities below.

DAI @ ILCUK

DAI @ ILCUK

International Longevity Centre-UK

The latest collaborative research project between the International Longevity Centre-UK and Design Age Institute at the Royal College of Art identifies the reasons people aged over 60 give for underspending. The Money well spent? report, also identifies practical steps that the Government, financial services, regulators, businesses, town planners, and designers can take to support spending in later life.

This report draws on our analysis of a nationally representative survey of 1,008 adults aged 60 and over in the UK, which was carried out between February and March 2023, as well as interviews and user research carried out by Design Age Institute.

DAI @ Oxford

DAI @ Oxford

Oxford Institute of Population Ageing

One of our research partner’s is the University of Oxford’s Institute of Population Ageing.  You can find the latest reports commissioned by the Design Age Institute and DAI@Oxford linked below:

Technology Futures Toolkit

Technology Futures Toolkit

Design Age Institute

A toolkit to explore and discuss scenarios for emerging technologies shaping the future of ageing societies.  Tap into the emerging technologies shaping how all of us will age happier and healthier with the Technology Futures Toolkit. The toolkit provides guidance, insights and activities that will help you to explore the technologies that shaping the future of ageing including:

The Technology Future Roadmap: a reference when you want more information regarding one of the technologies. Including the expected timeframe to be realised, and the associated design and policy issues.

The Technology Futures cards: interactive activities to facilitate exploration of preferable technology futures for ageing societies.

Lived Experience Research

Lived Experience Research

Design Age Institute

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

Design Age Institute

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

Design Age Institute

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.

News

Tech Futures Toolkit

Tech Futures Toolkit

A toolkit to explore and discuss scenarios for emerging technologies shaping the future of ageing societies.

Design Age Ideas

Design Age Ideas

Dive into our latest report, Design Age Ideas, and get inspired by the role we each have to play in designing better for an ageing population.

WATCH: Design.Wisdom

WATCH: Design.Wisdom

Watch our webinar on wisdom with Dr. Dilip Jeste, an expert on wisdom, Colum Lowe, Director of DAI, and Carly Dickson, DAI Knowledge Exchange Fellow.

WATCH: Money Well Spent

WATCH: Money Well Spent

Watch our webinar exploring the barriers which stop us from spending the way we want to as we get older, and launching a joint report.

New Report: Money well spent?

New Report:  Money well spent?

Explore the findings from our latest collaborative research project with the International Longevity Centre - UK in a new report: Money well spent?

WEBINAR: Money well spent?

WEBINAR: Money well spent?

Join a panel of experts for a webinar exploring the findings of a newly published report on barriers and opportunities for spending in later life.

WATCH: Happy, Healthy & Wise

WATCH: Happy, Healthy & Wise

Watch our talk exploring how designers can create products, services and environments that are not only needed, but desired by older people.

WATCH: Inclusive Technology

WATCH:  Inclusive Technology

Watch our talk and panel discussion at the Design Museum, exploring how technology is shaping how we design for an ageing population.

WATCH: Let’s Talk About Sex

WATCH:  Let’s Talk About Sex

Watch our event on designing for your future sex life - sex, intimacy and pleasure as we age.

WATCH: No time to Waste

WATCH:  No time to Waste

Watch our event on designing for a future in which the planet is rapidly heating up at the same time as populations are living longer.

WATCH: A World for Everyone

WATCH: A World for Everyone

Watch the launch of our 'Designing for Your Future Self' talks series at the Design Museum on 21 September 2021.

WATCH: Age, Agency & Joy

WATCH: Age, Agency & Joy

Watch a recording of our virtual April event, 'Age, Agency & Joy’, introducing the Design Age Institute and partners.