Rob Van Varick was interviewed by Heather Corcoran for a piece she wrote for Artsy.Net about the “Five Global Challenges Designers and Architects Can Solve in 2017.” Rob spoke at length about one challenge relating to the pace at which the world’s population is aging, the size of the demographic and the implications this has for the design community.
Generally speaking, we think one of the biggest challenges facing society in the coming years is the lack of housing and assistive products that people are both proud of and provide for their needs. As a result, one of the big design challenges is finding the marriage of style and safety. Unfortunately, however, better design is only part of it since the solutions need to get in the hands of consumers. With that, housing developers, retailers, product manufacturers and marketers need to recognize the opportunity to improve their bottom lines while enhancing people’s lives. This is our big focus.
“Aging isn’t sexy, But neither were eye glasses a generation ago.” – Rob Van Varick
Fundamentally, architects and designers can tackle this issue by focusing on the details. We use ethnographic research to truly understand the unique needs of these consumers and to create design filters for each project that respond to these needs. It often comes down to designers having empathy for end users and a passion for designing solutions that meet people’s functional needs, as well as their feelings.