This year's brief was 'Active Ageing, designing for our future selves'. Four finalists looked at the challenges faced in helping a rapidly growing ageing population to remain active and presented project work to a capacity audience at the RCA on 4 March.
Clinic's winning project, Sage & Onions, is a not-for-profit communications initiative aimed at stimulating activity and community participation among people of different age groups by encouraging them to trade their time and skills with each other.
Jenny Theolin from Clinic was presented with the DBA Inclusive Design Challenge Award, designed by glass artist Louis Thompson, by RCA Rector Dr Paul Thompson (pictured above left).
Anna Eagle, MP, Minister of State for Pensions and the Ageing Society, and Emma Soames, Editor at Large at Saga magazine, were the keynote speakers. Eagle noted that Active Ageing, the theme of this year's Challenge, was timely now that the demographic tipping point had been reached with more people aged over 65 in the UK than under 16.
'This is the first time in the history of our society that this has been the case,' said Eagle. 'Ageing societies worldwide have recognised that the role of designers is extremely important in the way in which this transition is made.'
Emma Soames went on to describe how 'my grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill, didn't get his biggest job until he was 65 years old ... we know that old age isn't for wimps but it isn't for romantics either.' She told the audience of designers that they were in a position to help society become less fearful of the inevitable and more realistic about the consequences of ageing.
'You're in a powerful position to make the lives of this ageing population logistically less challenging, visually more appealing and, above all, to make independence a more viable option for much longer and to allow people to hold on to the quality of life that we all want for as long as possible,' said Soames. 'You really can help people get the best out of being old and postpone, if not completely obliterate, the frailties of deep old age.'