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Age Lab –
Design for Transitions
to Elderly Care Homes


Stefan Zahler; Masterthesis Product Design ZHdK – Zürcher Hochschule der Künste



ZHdK – Zürcher Hochschule der Künste: Martin Meier (Lead Master Product Design),
Dr. Francis Müller, Robert Wettstein

This research project deals with the planned or unplanned transition from living life independently in one’s own home to a care facility. This process is generally described as a dramatic life event for people in the third and fourth age, who are the main age group affected by this. The project investigates what contribution design can make so that the quality of life is maintained during the transition phase or when entering a care institution. The knowledge gained from the experience of care home residents is made accessible with participative design methods in order to develop solutions to enable the people affected and their families to structure the transition in a self-determined manner. With the help of a human centred design approach, institutions and organisations are encouraged to question antiquated ways of thinking and procedures and initiate innovative processes. The project has the aim of promoting dialogue with and among the interest groups involved and to guarantee a broad, sustainable influence of design on the structure of the transition.

Comments of the nominators

The project investigates the key moments within the transitional phase between living at home and living with care in a care establishment and uses design thinking approaches to do so. The project is impressive because it focusses on the subjective perception of the people affected and develops proposals for change from this perspective, which are intended to make the entire process more humane.

Comments of the jury

The transition from an independent and self-determined life in one’s own four walls to a care establishment means a radical and so far traumatic break for everyone affected by this for very comprehensible reasons. The research project on this subject is impressive with regard to several aspects: Firstly, because it is focussing on this topic in the first place, which has so far been very much neglected in terms of research. Secondly, because the author handles this delicate subject with great sensitivity and empathy. Thirdly, because specific proposals for improvement can be derived from the careful analysis. Fourthly, because it is successful in identifying ways of implementing these proposals. Overall this project should be viewed as a best practice example for social design.