Video Tryptych: GoodDesignAgeWell Summarized

A triptych is a work of art divided into three sections. The central panel is typically the most important one, and is usually flanked on either side by two lesser but related pieces. The order of these three video segments deviates from the standard triptych form because all three segments are equal in importance. This video triptych was made with which allows three Youtube videos to be watched simultaneously.

Some may think multiple videos is distracting, but the hope is the longer you watch the triptych the more you will become immersed in the multiple video messages centered around a common theme. The multiple videos lets one abstract to higher levels of thinking about the topic, which is a whole new element that wouldn’t happen if the videos were viewed individually or even sequentially. The whole is intended to be greater than the sum of its parts.

1: Microsoft Vision of Healthcare.  2. Dove Commercial.  3. Playing the Wii

(Clicking the image will open a new browser window at Be sure to have your sound on. It is a continuous loop. Complete one cycle of the soundtrack for a complete experience.)

Good Design Needs a Good Soundtrack

“All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I’ve been

And how I got to where I am”

Good design, no matter what kind of artist you are, (I use Seth Godin’s definition of artist) can find inspiration in music.  Brandi Carlile’s song, The Story, is my recommendation for a dose of inspiration because it honors the passage of time

What musician or song inspires you? What is the story of your wrinkles?

Walker Balls – Can’t We Do Better?

Have you seen the Walker Balls accessory for mobility walkers? This Patriotic themed pair are available at for $4.95 a pair. They are advertised as an inexpensive alternative to the standard rubber tips on the rear legs of walkers.

Rubber tips don’t glide well on most surfaces.  They are great for stability while standing still, but their stickiness requires the user to slightly raise the rear legs of the walker to take a step forward. This maneuver requires balance and upper body strength, which can be difficult for some who needs to use a walker in the first place. As the durable medical equipment suppliers keep producing and selling walkers with rubber tips an adjacent industry grows, the Walker Ball industry.

The question arises, why don’t the “metal bender” (not my label but their own) durable equipment manufacturers understand how their walkers are modified by consumers and incorporate the needed hacks into the original design? The need to customize everyday objects in order to make it useful is disgraceful design. Customizable objects to reflect your personal style are welcomed.

Here again is a problem for design-thinkers to solve. The challenge continues and it welcomes your talents.

Courtyard by Marriot Redesigned Around Customer

Mark Hurst of Good Experience interviewed Brian King, VP & global brand manager of Courtyard by Marriott to understand the process and goals of the redesign of the hotel lobby around their target customer segment, the frequent business traveler. This project is a recommended case study and a call to action for senior living communities and facilities to listen to current and prospective residents in order to meet their evolving physical and emotional needs. The full interview is a must read and can be found here.

It was interesting to learn “…the laptop is the center of the business traveler’s life and should be the center of the design innovation.”  What is at the center of your customer’s life?  Is it an object or a lifestyle; a variety of social events, opportunities to be active, a mix of private and public space, or a support network of heathcare options? Find what is most important to your target market and use that as the guide for ongoing innovation. Some of the other key learning points of the redesign of Courtyard hotels that could be applied to senior living communities are:

  • Flexible, movable furniture to customize how the public space is used from a communal table to private quiet areas.
  • A physical environment and service options that is under each persons control and offers a high level of choice; a variety of food options and highly flexible meal time schedule.
  • A lobby that is a destination as opposed to being a mediocre pass through to secluded rooms.
Dedicated technology stations. Modular furniture for a flexible public space. Modernized bulletin board for pertinent information.
Additional information can be found at IDEO, the innovation firm that was part of the redesign. Images from

If you won’t be traveling to one of the refreshed Courtyard properties any time soon get a feel of the new environment with this commercial.

There are many  examples of well designed lifestage communities and facilities across the continuum of care but they are far outnumbered by the quantity of poorly designed facilities that are not prepared to meet the lifestyle needs of a new generation of adults seeking innovative housing and care options.

If you really listen to your current and prospective residents what small and large scale innovations can you implement that will transform their experience?

arcCA Design for Aging Journal Released

The journal of the American Institute of Architects California Council, (arcCA), released the DESIGN FOR AGING issue.  The PDF is not yet posted online but you may order print copies of the magazine by contacting Lori Reed, AIACC’s Director of Communications, at lreed or by calling her at 916-448-9082.

arcCA Cover

When Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, arcCA editor and Andrew Sharlach, Associate Dean and Professor of Social Welfare at the University of California at Berkeley presented the issue at the monthly San Francisco meeting of the AIA Design for Aging knowledge group I knew I wanted to pass the information on to others who might be interested in a beautifully designed journal with over ten articles by leading experts in the field with interesting perspectives on aging and the built environment. Enjoy. While you’re checking out the Journal, also visit the AIA DFA site; I think you will be excited by what it does.

arcCA mtg

The New Urban Village: A Design for Intergenerational Living

Any chance to mingle and collaborate with innovative design-thinkers is a valuable and enjoyable moment.  If you are in the Oakland, California area on August 26, 2009 a lecture and reception presented by the Regional Northern California Design for Aging (DFA) Committee is highly recommended.

Taube-Koret Campus

The lecture topic is the Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life in Palo Alto, California; a vibrant community that closes generational gaps, allowing family members of all ages to interact and thrive. This affordable community offers various housing types all within walking distance of  shops, gyms and learning centers, building a strong sense of community. The architect, developer and executive director from this project discuss their experiences bringing this community to life. The program will be followed by a wine and cheese reception.

Featured Speakers:
Rob Steinberg, FAIA – President of Steinberg Architects
Lydia Tam – Interim President and CEO of Bridge Housing
Shelley Hébert – Previous Executive Director of Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life

Sponsored by Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc.

Wednesday August 26, 2009
Time: 5:30pm—7:30pm including reception
Location: AIA East Bay, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland
Cost:  $10 for DFA/AIA Members & guests; $15 for non-members
Registration Required. Click here to register or go to

CALL 510/464-3600 or EMAIL events

Your Product Personified

I met Antonella, Ashley and Natasha via a New York Times article, Before Creating the Car, Ford Designs the Driver, by Phil Patton. “Antonella is an attractive 28-year old woman who lives in Rome. Her life is focused on friends and fun, clubbing and parties. Natasha is a “a tech-savvy “social achiever”” and Ashley  is “a cool mom.”

These people don’t actually exist. They are imaginary characters created by Ford Motor Company to capture the personality of intended customers of specific car models. These colorful avatars bring to life piles of statistical research and demographic data to create a shared image for everyone working to create the next hit for Ford. I find this approach is very valuable in articulating and relating to the nuanced, multifaceted demographic data of the over 40 consumer.

Age Well Character

I was inspired to define an ideal composite character for GoodDesignAgeWell.  I chose Ashley as the core character because she is described, according to Ford’s internal research documents, as a mom “who, like the vehicle, represents an update of traditional family priorities. She shops at T. J. Maxx, H&M and Target  and“friends are part of her family.””  The concept van also fits the vision of a family vehicle that is designed well and integrates lo-tech and hi-tech concepts that make daily life better;  built-in hand sanitizer and sunscreen dispensers, storage hooks to transport scooters and strollers, large underfloor storage, constant Web access, and an RFID electronic tagging system to track, via the onboard computer, important items you don’t want to forget or lose.

In addition to Ashely,  I see GoodDesignAgeWell is more than a single character, it is a family of personalities.  Building upon the Ford research I believe Ashley’s family shares similar values and attributes across multiple generations and most notably, family members are also friends.

multigenerational family

I also put greater importance on the role Ashley plays as the family medical manager and wellness coach.  Her focus on safety and wellness is illustrated well with the photo of the concept van with Harry Allen’s International Design Magazine (I.D.) 2009 packaging award winning first aid kit for Johnson & Johnson. Available at for $18.49

Ford First Aid Kit

Other Key Points on the Value of a Persona:

•    Personalizes the ideal buyer
•    Articulates common values and attitudes across boundaries of nation and language
•    Equally effective for concepts and for products in production
•    Importance of pleasure and preference in buying choices vs. older, rational models of buyer behavior based simply on price or other hard factors.
•    Design is critical
•    “We now focus quite a bit on aspirations and dreams.”