A road sign design competition set out to challenge ageist stereotypes, which according to research can become self-fulfilling prophecies
Walking sticks and hunched-over figures are familiar ways to visually designate old age – but should they be? This question was the starting point for a competition by the charity Centre for Ageing Better, which asked designers to submit ‘age positive’ alternatives.
The winning entry, a submission by London-based SwaG Design, gave the original symbol of the couple crossing the road an energetic spin, with their walking stick becoming a dancing cane.
“Dancing is one of the things that people of all ages love,” said Jon Miller from SwaG Design. “It promotes physical, mental and emotional health as well as a chance to be sociable, expressive and uplifting.”
Research has shown that stereotypes can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as they can affect how older people view themselves, their capabilities and the sorts of activities they take part in.
More than 120 entries were received in the competition, which was run in partnership with Public Health England. Miller and his team will now work up a final design and a wider set of icons and illustrations that depict the diversity of people in later life.
The new design is not intended for use as road signage, but will be used in reports and other materials to represent older people in a positive way. The winning icon will be made publicly available for unlimited use by any individual or organisation, to offer alternatives to the “currently limited” choice of icons. Final designs are expected to be ready by February.