The Future of Ageing

An innovative exhibition that shows how design can help and even enhance our lives as we age opens at V&A Dundee on Wednesday, October 12.

The Future of Ageing is curated by Design Age Institute, based at the Royal College of Art, in collaboration with the Design Museum. It explores how design is transforming the way society can support everyone to age with greater agency and joy.

A person born today is expected to live to 104. By 2040 more than a quarter of the UK’s population will be over the age of 60, yet many of our products, services and environments are not age-inclusive or accessible. By considering the unique and diverse experiences of later life and championing cross-generational thinking as a key for social impact, the projects in the exhibition demonstrate how we can design a world that works better for everyone.

The exhibition is a reminder that design and innovation for an ageing population not only offers solutions to the restrictions that ageing sometimes brings, but it can also satisfy the older consumer’s needs and interests.


The exhibition showcases prototypes, sketches, and research from five design projects that are being developed by Design Age Institute and its partners. Two newly commissioned films and a limited-edition newspaper by ‘This Age Thing’, an advocacy group for healthy ageing, highlight different experiences of later life and examples of age-inclusive design.

The Centaur – a self-balancing, two-wheeled personal electric vehicle (PEV) for people with difficulties getting around, developed by Centaur Robotics Ltd. The Centaur aims to make supported mobility more accessible, more flexible, and more desirable and to spotlight the significant opportunity to expand the mobility market. “I want to end the social isolation resulting from reduced mobility. And I believe good design can do that,” said Paul Campbell, Design Director at Centaur Robotics.

Gita – a hands-free cargo-carrying robot made by Piaggio Fast Forward, creators of the iconic Vespa scooter. The UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing is now exploring Gita’s potential impact on the lives of older adults with user groups. “I didn’t expect to fall in love with a robot,” said one user this year.

Home Office to Age in Place – a project to develop integrated flexible working space in the home to allow independent working in later life. Home Office to Age in Place brings together experts in architecture, design for ageing and computing from Northumbria University, along with furniture designers from Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy. Co-created with users, Light-Block is a design concept by Pentagram for a mobile lighting, power and storage solution that allows any table to be converted into a proper workstation.

Hearing Birdsong – an immersive digital audioscape created by Kennedy Woods that uses the sound of British birdsong to engage visitors with their hearing health. The Hearing Birdsong app (pictured above right) aims to reduce the stigma associated with hearing loss and to support early diagnosis by creating an enjoyable experience that allows people to check their hearing in the privacy of their own homes.

Growing Together project – an ongoing project initiated by the Design Museum, Design Age Institute, and the Lightbulb Trust, which engages local communities to co-design an accessible and restorative intergenerational garden within the Dame Sylvia Crowe Garden to the north of the Design Museum. Inspired by the need for new community spaces, the garden is intended as a space for people to socialise, share knowledge and take part in creative workshops.

The Future of Ageing goes on display at V&A Dundee after a successful run at the Design Museum in London from July to September 2022.

Francesca Bibby, Assistant Curator at V&A Dundee, says "We're thrilled to be sharing the innovative projects and research featured in the Future of Ageing exhibition with our audiences. The Design Museum and 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 important role of design in creating a more age-inclusive world."

Colum Lowe, Director, Design Age Institute says “The Future of Ageing display allows us to demonstrate how design and innovation can transform our homes, workplaces, cities, and neighbourhoods to support us as we age. Getting older is not a singular story of decline, loneliness, and hardship – it also includes wisdom, maturity, confidence, abundance, and adventure. We are delighted to be able to bring the display to V&A Dundee, to open up a dialogue on the future of ageing with new audiences who possibly haven’t considered the challenges and joys of later life.”

Josephine Chanter, Director of Audiences at the Design Museum says “After a very successful run here at the Design Museum in London, we are delighted to be able to help bring the Future of Ageing display to audiences at the V&A Dundee. The challenges that come with ageing are something that will affect everyone across the whole United Kingdom, and so we’re pleased to be highlighting these exciting design solutions to even more people across the country.

The Future of Ageing is a free exhibition, displayed in V&A Dundee’s Locke Hall on the ground floor of the museum. It opens on October 12, 2022 and runs until January 22, 2023.

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