Losing mobility is one of the reasons for elderly to become lonely. Imagine visiting your relatives at the other side of the country or go to your weekly activities when walking becomes difficult. A product design team of the Haagse Hogeschool developed more than 10 ideas for this issue. They worked out one of them: an elderly train compartment full of tools and products to make it easier for elderly to use public transport.
“I find it important to use my power as a designer and contribute to society.”
Sam van der Heijden: “The products made by industrial designers are – as the name suggests – meant for production on an industrial scale. These high amounts mean that the designed products will reach a large public. That’s why industrial designers have a considerable influence on society. I like it when consumers are not aware of this, for example when they buy a sustainable product, and while doing so have a positive influence on the environment. That’s why I find it important to use this power as a designer and contribute to society.
For this project, we worked together with Design for Humanity and Het Nationaal Ouderenfonds with the assignment to design something that improves elderly mobility. We prepared ourselves by literature research, statistics and by talking to elderly in nursing homes and to physiotherapists. With our design, I hope we inspire companies like NS, Arriva and Connexxion to improve the mobility of elderly in public transport.”
“We want to create a pleasant atmosphere, without giving the passengers the idea that they are old.”
Andrea van den Berg: “Before studying Industrial Design, I studied Applied Psychology, what made me used to doing lots of research and empathize with the users of products. This was a useful skill when interviewing elderly. During the interviews, I found out that limited access to public transport is part of the causes of their loneliness. Travelling by bus or train is heavy, both mentally and physically.
We tried to look closely at the experience of the target group. Not only technically, like the height of the chairs, but also how they can feel comfortable. We want to create a pleasant atmosphere, without giving the passengers the idea that they are old. In the future, I want to develop myself more in this user-experienced design, where the focus is on the experience of the users of the product.”
“Because of doing this project, I started to realize that the amount of lonely elderly is incredibly high.”
Roy de Wit: “Because of doing this project, I started to realize that the amount of lonely elderly is incredibly high. It made me grateful for my own grandparents to have enough social contacts, and that they can still get around pretty easily. I think this project is unique because of the conceptual character. Within the elderly compartment there are plenty of ideas and designs we have visually worked out.
I worked out an expandable handrail, that makes it easier to get on board of a bus or train. You don’t realize it when you are young, but the space between the platform and the train unit is enormous. Designers from train or bus companies could work this out into full technically developed designs. My future vision for our concept is that it will be adopted by transport companies so we can further develop and implement it.”