The teenagers that kicked off Beatlemania and the Woodstock hippies are all in their seventies, while the first Elvis fans are well into their eighties. The elderly people we see around town are no strangers to a rock and roll attitude and the rebellious side of pop culture, since they're the ones that invented them. They were the original rebels without a cause.
It's precisely these generations that are the subject of this year's ROGLAB OPEN: ACTIVE AGING initiative. This open call is being held by RogLab, a fab lab in Ljubljana that received the prestigious Eurocities Innovation Award, and the Slovenian Centre for Creativity under the auspices of the Museum of Architecture and Design. The open call aims to draw the attention of both designers and the public to the needs of the elderly, and to encourage the production of products and services aimed especially at them.
We invited all who feel at home in graphic, fashion, spatial, industrial, product, service or other design disciplines, that are interested in socially conscious solutions and intergenerational collaboration, that enjoy a cross-cultural creative atmosphere and aren't afraid of competition from around the world. What was the creative challenge they were expected to tackle? In short: to design a socially conscious solution enabling people over the age of 70 to lead active and independent lives at home or in public spaces, be it indoors or outdoors.
This year’s RogLab Open: Active Aging initiative, which aims to draw the attention of both designers and the public to the needs of the elderly, drew 30 entries from Brazil, India, Iran, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Ivory Coast, Slovenia and the UK. The open call was held by RogLab, a fab lab in Ljubljana, and the Slovenian Centre for Creativity under the auspices of the Museum of Architecture and Design, while 35 labs from 27 countries provided promotional support.
The selection committee members, as below, chose five winning ideas, of which four took part in further development: Meta Štular (RogLab project manager, independent cultural manager in the field of creative industries, winner of Eurocities Innovation Award), Maja Vardjan (curator at the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) and co-curator of 24th and 25th Biennial of Design BIO), Jure Miklavc (founder of Studio Miklavc, professor at the academy of Fine Arts and Design, recipient of several international and national recognitions such as red dot and the Prešeren Fund award), Mojca Mihailovič-Škrinjar (economist, adviser for design thinking and strategic development of business ideas, winner of the Design Management Value Award 2016 with the Competence Centre for Design Management) and Maja Kržišnik (art historian, director of the Informational documentation centre for design at the Slovenian Chamber for Commerce and Industry (1988–2006), former lecturer at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering and Faculty of Design).
The authors whose projects most impressed the selection committee have honed their ideas with local mentors and other specialists, tested out their initial prototypes and, together with Mojca Mihajlovič Škrinjar, implemented new lessons in design thinking, business model development and market placement.
The workshop began with Barbara Goričan and Mateja Slapnik, representatives of the Slovene Philanthropy, who helped our participants understand various health issues that the older generation experiences. Empathetic thinking helped participants to take into account various adaptations of their initial project proposals into objects the elderly can use to their full advantage.
Alenka Plemelj, professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences specialising in functional therapy and ergonomics, made sure that the prototypes meet various guidelines of best practices. For instance, she drew the makers’ attention to decreased muscle strength, deterioration of fine motor skills and the senses, as well as joint mobility and related issues with one’s reach. Volunteers Milena Dimec and Uroš Stanič tested out all the prototypes and gave additional advice to authors with their ideas for improvements.
Part of the partner network of the Center for Creativity, this project is co-financed by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Slovenia.