Decreased comfort of life among seniors
Beata Fabisiak: Almost 20% of the EU population is 65 years old or more, and this ratio is increasing, posing an enormous challenge for economies and governments. The situation is similar in countries around the Baltic Sea. People live longer but not all live comfortable: for example, the percentage of seniors living alone who do not have kitchen furniture adapted to their needs ranges from over 50% in Poland and Germany to around 35% in Sweden, the BaltSe@nioR study says. Many senior citizens across the region experience decreased comfort of life and independence at home.
One reason behind it is that the furniture industry fails to offer suitable products for seniors. Designers and entrepreneurs lack knowledge of the seniors’ needs and expectations, and therefore miss the opportunity to produce furniture tailored to the requirements of this rapidly growing segment of customers.
The future in the hands of young generation
But what if the young generation of designers, wood engineers and furniture manufacturers started to work with experts in social and medical sciences to learn about the aging process in order to understand seniors better? And what if, together with ICT engineers, they used this knowledge to design smart furniture that increases the seniors’ comfort and safety at home?
In BaltSe@nioR, we have empowered students from countries around the Baltic Sea to enter the market with new knowledge, proven creative design methods and the vision how to turn the evolving European demographic structure into a business opportunity.
We offered an inspirational knowledge database on seniors as customers. Our Virtual Library is a one-stop shop that compiles research results, manuals, publications and tools. We used this knowledge at design workshops when we teamed up young professionals and students with companies and researchers from design, wood technology, robotics and ICT sectors to test design methods, i.e. IDEO design thinking, Giga mapping.