It's a Honda! for me... An exploratory student project on branding and product design for the older adult population
Editor: Clarke, A, Ion, W, McMahon, C and Hogarth, P
Author: Person, Oscar; Warell, Anders; Karjalainen, Toni-Matti; Rahe, Ulrike
Section: SOCIALLY RELEVANT DESIGN
Physical as well as cognitive needs associated with aging and product usage were long the point of focus when designing for the older adult population, with coursework on ergonomics and humanfactors as important components in design education. Today, designers and design educators are challenged to take a more holistic design approach by actively addressing peoples' needs and wishes associated with the perceptual and experiential aspects of products. In addressing such needs and wishes, the aesthetic and symbolic qualities of products constitute important parts of the product design process. However, the literature on design for the older adult population has only cursorily addressed how educators can integrate and focus on these qualities in design education. In this paper we report on an exploratory student project conducted at Chalmers University of Technology, focusing on branding and design for the older adult population. The purpose of the project was to explore the visual identity of brands as a starting point for the aesthetic and symbolic qualities of products when designing for older users. Results from the project showed that students enthusiastically embraced branding in designing product concepts for this user group. They also displayed a number of attempts to empathise with these users' specific needs and wishes. In total, the concepts produced in the course suggested a broad range of ideas on how to make products more perceptually as well as experientially appealing for older adults.