Interdesign Norway 1989

Design for Elderly People, Kristiansund (Norway)

1-13 June 1989

This Interdesign was organised by The Norwegian Industrial Designers and Norwegian Design Council, with the support of More and Romsdal County Council and Kristiansund Town Council. Thirty-five product designers participated in this Interdesign.


The theme was ‘Design for the Elderly’, which was inspired by the rapidly increasing proportion of elderly persons in industrialised countries. The availability of human help, support and care was diminishing for a number of reasons. There was a need for vision, investigation, debate and alternatives to be made explicit for consideration, particularly with emphasis on the home of an aging person.


The Rooms of an Aging Person

The best dwelling for elderly people is their own dwelling and the best room is their own room. Therefore, factors such as ergonomics, easy accessibility, ease in handling, reduction of bending and stretching among other things were considered in the design of products. The work group was to consider the spaces and general arrangement of the home, as well as coordination and integrate the suggestion and visions of the other four groups.

The Food Supply and Cooking Facilities in the Home

Due to changing abilities with regard to memory, eyesight, reach and hand strength of an aging person, it was necessary to re-evaluate cooking techniques which have been developed from an industrial perspective and for a different user living in a different situation.

The Hygiene Facilities in the Home

Some general proposals for improvement in hygienic spaces for the elderly were made in areas such as body cleansing, wash basins, toilet design, and lighting. One of the products designed was the adjustable hygiene stall.

Manual Handling in the Home

Manual functions should be made comfortable for persons with lowered motor skills, especially older individuals whose muscles require constant activity in order to avoid major complications. While electronic gadgets may seem ideal, there is risk of creating dependency on gadgets instead of physical effort.

New Communication Links in the Home

The group tried to create a coordinated vision of the home of an aging person in order to develop an integrated system that would utilise the achievements of microelectronics: telefax, personal computer, telephone video recorder and terminals. The group also designed some alternative communication centres based on an electronic communication network, appropriate for use by elderly persons with decreased vision/hearing, or with impaired motor skills.