Emi Kiyota has just returned from Sri Lanka. She is working to develop culturally appropriate designs and systems for aging there. This is the best new blog I have seen in a long time.
A sample from Sri Lanka…
I discovered the magical power of “cheap plastic chairs” in long term care facilities in Sri Lanka. Most of the elder care homes had a front porch with several light weight plastic chairs. It seemed to be the most frequently utilized space by elders, staff members, and visitors.
Normally, chairs were neatly placed along the wall. When people came out to the front porch, they slightly adjust the location of the chairs and sat. I have observed that people were constantly adjusting their chairs to maintain their comfortable distance among others. The distance and configuration were also adjusted in different social functions. Because these chairs were light enough for elders with limited strength to move easily, everybody was able to find their most comfortable location in the area.
William Whyte found that providing movable chairs increases the peoples’ usage of public open space in NYC. This time, I have witnessed that simple movable chairs gave a magical power to draw people into gathering space in rural Sri Lanka. It was quite amazing to learn that simple and inexpensive furniture like plastic chairs could help elders to make their own place.
“Place making…” can be a meaningful concept only when users are fully involved, which has been over-done by designers so far.
We have a lot more to learn…