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We are all ageing

I await this time of year with the utmost excitement to finally see the fruits of the student’s creative labour, and this year is no exception.

2022/23 for Design Age Institute has been all about ‘impact’ with our touring display travelling around the UK showcasing our seed funded Pathfinder Projects, growing our community network This Age Thing and securing additional funding from Innovate UK to award even more innovative projects to demonstrate the power of design, innovation and creative thinking - all to help us try and age more healthy and joyfully.

Below is a selection of some of the exciting student work in relation to ‘Design’ and ‘Age’ that have caught my eye, and I’m sure will challenge your thinking on what it means to grow older.

If the pandemic taught us one thing it was how kinship and community is vital to a functioning and healthy society. IDE’s Zijian Chen’s project speaks to our digital community platform This Age Thing through ‘making kin not population’ stressing the importance our spatial and experimental approaches to relationships can contribute to our sense of belonging.

Anej Golčar’s disturbing film reminds us of the harsh realities of caregiving, personifying the puppet’s emotional constraints in a dramatically visual way. Ran Zhou takes a contemporary art practice twist on the deep rooted social control and regulation bodies speaking to the medicalised model of ageing that pervades our societal stereotypes and narrative of ageing. Darshan Shah’s ‘Leap’ offers an interesting technological alternative to customisable footwear to meet specific needs of the user, a project that compliments our Pathfinder Project ‘Walk with Path’, and as one step further you may add, to take the user with wearing a desired shoe whilst assisting with any potential fall detection.

Find out more about the work of Design Age Institute at and follow us @designage_.

Melanie Smith

Melanie Smith is a creative leader and manages Design Age Institute at the RCA. She joined the RCA from the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and holds a BA (Hons) Fine Art from UCCA, PGCE Design & Technology and MEd Researching Practice, both from the University of Cambridge.
Melanie started her career as a conceptual artist and painter, later pursuing interior design and education. She has undertaken numerous commissions for high profile clients, with her predominant creative interest in inclusive design, gender stereotypes and creative rebellion.

Portrait of Melanie Smith