CR June: The Age issue

Our June issue looks at how the creative industries are engaging with our ageing population – and how working both for and with older people can create a better world for everyone…

While the narrative around our ageing population remains, sadly, rather negative, it’s a version being countered by numerous individuals and organisations who see older people as experienced, knowledgeable and valuable members of society.

We look at the work being done to challenge the stigma of ageing by the established Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the recently-formed Age of No Retirement? events – and hear from two inspirational figures from very different walks of life: architect Frank Gehry and sign-painter Graham Brown, who both stress the importance of working on what you love.

From practical design advice to emotive image-making, we also look at how designers are increasing the range of products and tech available for older people and meet three photographers who have made moving, personal projects about their parents and grandparents.

The language we use to describe older people is key to all of this – not to mention the visual imagery we use to represent them in everything from advertising to magazines. Our front cover, above, features ‘Valerie’, photographed by Natalia Lipchanskaya. Full details on the issue are below.

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Opening our Age section, Mark Sinclair reports back from the second Age of No Retirement? event in Manchester and finds that an awareness of the language we use to talk about older people is at the heart of the movement to change how we think about ageing. (TAONR also needs your help to realise many of the ideas proposed at their recent conference.)


Graphic language is explored in a challenge from design studio NB and the Spring Chicken website: can the message of the ‘warning, elderly people’ road sign be better designed? We show 19 examples from the resulting Sign of the Times project.


After 16 years leading the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, ex CR-editor Jeremy Myerson is to step down from his role this Summer. For our Age issue, he looks back at the progress made in tackling design problems for older people – and highlights some of the Centre’s most innovative work to date.


Eliza Williams investigates the recent trend for featuring older women in advertising – as the face of L’Oréal, Marc Jacobs and Céline, for example – but questions whether the move is really indicative of a shift away from the industry’s obsession with youth. She talks to Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar; Danielle Pender of Riposte magazine; and Rosie Arnold, deputy ECD at BBH London.

In an exclusive extract from Getting There, Gillian Zoe Segal’s new book on mentors, architect Frank Gehry (86), traces the key moments of his career and offers up advice on taking risks and doing what you love…


… while Rupert Howe meets the Gloucestershire-based narrowboat painter, Graham Brown, still working hard in his mid-70s. Brown’s craft is celebrated in a new short film for the Canal & River Trust, while his designs have found their way onto an exclusive range of hand-painted menswear and accessories, courtesy of local label, Tender.


With the number of people living with dementia presenting one of the biggest health challenges facing the world today, Rachael Steven looks at how designers and ad creatives are helping to improve the quality of life for people with the condition.

And Rachael also talks to Anna James, the founder of the Spring Chicken website which sells products aimed at making life “easier and brighter” as people get older – from ‘sports’ canes (shown in the spread above) to simple, well-designed MP3 players and tablets. Ollie Campbell of Melbourne’s Navy Design also offers some sound advice on designing tech for older people.


Closing our Age section, Antonia Wilson meets three photographers who have each documented the last years of their parents’ or grandparents’ lives, a challenge that in each case has resulted in a series of moving and highly personal images.


In the rest of the issue, our Month in Review section includes a look at the ‘tableau vivant’ created for Anzac Day in New Zealand and details how the New York Times Magazine’s Walking Issue came together; while Daniel Benneworth-Gray worries about being left behind in the face of constantly updating technology and Michael Evamy examines Pentagram’s identity for Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaign (both above).


In Crit, Pentagram’s Naresh Ramchandani reveals how an encounter with poet Henry Ponder’s in-the-moment verse led the designer to delve deeper into the current trend for ‘mindfulness’…


… while InkyGoodness’s Lisa Hassell reports from the 11th installment of Berlin-based illustration and character-design festival, Pictoplasma, which has shaken up its format this year. In his Art Directing the Idea column, Paul Belford hones in on a stunning Vogue cover from 1949.

The best way to ensure you never miss an issue of CR is to subscribe and save up to 30% off the cover price. All our subscribers can also take advantage of our CR Club offers, which are listed here. Full details on how to subscribe are here.