Kevin Mongan – Miko Engineering
Butters Innovation, Jonathan Butters
Institute for Ageing and Health
Vitality –Inclusive Outdoor Seating
Street furniture is most commonly designed for aesthetic or price reasons and is rarely designed with the involvement of end users. The needs of the older population are often neglected during both the design and commissioning of street furniture.
Over the last 200 years life expectancy has increased at a rate of 5 hours per day and the North East is one of the most rapidly ageing regions in the UK. The percentage of the UK population over 65 in 2008 was 16% and has been predicted to grow to 23% in 2033. By designing seating with the needs of older people in mind it is intended that the design will be inclusive for people of all ages.
In the case of street furniture there are a number of customers for the product that need to be considered; from the end users, to architects and installers. Designing for your customer is important in providing products that are fit for purpose, visually appealing and available at the right price.
Using a process of consultation with groups of older people, architects and estate planners the design was able to be tailored to the needs of each of the customer groups. Factors such as seat height and arm rests are of particular importance when designing for older people. Planners and architects are particularly interested in areas such as maintenance, installation and aesthetics. By identifying the needs of each of these customer groups and designing a product which will satisfy these requirements the risk associated with product development was reduced.
|October 2010||Exemplar funding granted and designer selected|
|November 2010||Customer consultation began|
|December 2010||Concept development|
|January 2011||Detailed design development|
|February 2011||Prototype development|
|March 2011||Installation and customer feedback|
The design developed has a number of features that make it suitable for use by elderly people. Features such as the height of the seat, angle of the seat back and arm rests have been designed with older users in mind. The seating developed is modular and can be put together in a number of configurations to cater for all locations.
Kevin Mongan, Miko Engineering comments: “Designing for your customer is imperative in providing products that are fit for purpose and visually appealing. We are confident that we now have a design which will satisfy the needs of the ageing population and will set us apart from other manufacturers.”