What Is Trans Generational Design?

One of the greatest transformations in society in the mid to latter twenty first century is expected to be the demographic shift in many industrialised nations as the average age of populations increases dramatically. This is an economic and social change that needs to be accounted for in many fields, not only including policy making but also such things as design, architecture, and so on.Trans generational design is the use of industrial design to produce environments that are accommodating of as many people as possible, including the elderly and people with disabilities. The industrial designer James Pirkl was the first person to use the term ‘trans generational design’. Trans generational design keeps in mind the right of all people to work, live, and participate in leisure together equally in a cohesive society. Products should add to the lifestyles of those who use them, both through their function and through their aesthetic value. In order to achieve these dual goals, trans generational design aims to produce products that are desirable, usable, and useful by all people, regardless of their age or disability status. Trans generational design in many ways is the concept of packaging design, extended to also encompass ageing people. 


Trans generational new product packaging design needs to be accommodatory of all people who may use the product, through methods including maintaining the accessibility of products throughout different life stages, utilising design methods that are aware of the changing physical abilities as one ages, and ensuring that products enhance the lives of their users by enabling dignity and self esteem. Such developments in elder care such as aging in place will require trans generational design to be adopted more widely so that older people are able to remain in their own homes comfortably and safely. Aging in place is the preference of the vast majority of older people, however current architecture, design, economic and social systems make this difficult for many. There is the potential for design in all fields, from home architecture, to consumer products, to medical product development, to surmount the barriers that currently exist to aging in place for many people. This illustrates the transformative power of design to change the lives of the users of products for the better. Trans generational design is still emerging in contemporary design practice – while it is now fairly well articulated what is involved in trans generational design, it is not yet widely adopted, even as an increasing number of industrial designers seek to make their designs more widely accessible. Particularly, in the mainstream design of technology and user interfaces, too high a level of comfort and proficiency with the conventions of consumer computing – which often incorporate complex and opaque touch based gestures, obscure iconography and small text – is being assumed by many designers, needlessly limiting the accessibility of their designs.

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