Beige Be Gone – Designing for Stylish Silvers

In the 80s, not much thought was given to the outward appearance of PCs. Focus was on the inner workings – the design of the hard drive, chips, circuitry. In the Beige Age, computers came in a big putty-colored box, with little variation. OK, maybe black, but still.

Fast-forward to the 2010, where the average lifespan has increased to 78.7 years, 5 years longer than for children born in 1980 (CDC). As we age, our body parts begin to show signs of wear. New, assistive and even bionic products help us recapture, or even surpass our former capabilities.

Contrast this bionic future with a search on Pinterest for “products for seniors” and you’ll find mostly utilitarian gear and gadgets in cold stainless and boring beige. In the quest to solve a particular need, solutions are often situation-centered rather than human-centered.

These sanitized products are at odds with how spunky, stylish “Silvers” view themselves. They are comfortable in their own skin, with the confidence and wisdom that comes with life experience. Look around and you’ll see women in their 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s wearing bright colors, rhinestones, sequins, and statement jewelry, adorning themselves in a way that broadcasts who they are in the world. A prime example is 93-year-old Ilona Royce Smithkin (see video below).

Form and function are absolutely necessary, but not sufficient. How a product looks and feels, and how it works in the person’s environment are also important. Older adults deserve beautiful, useful products that feel good in the hand, warm the heart and help all of us age with grace.

For more inspiration designing for Stylish Silvers, check out the Advanced Style blog.