Why does design leave behind older people?

When you think of design for older people, what comes to mind? Grab rails. Hospital like rooms – impersonal, clinical and cold. Hallways filled with things that bleep. Clunky enabling equipment. We know that ageing is inevitable but why are our expectations so low?

When we look at the current design for ageing in place it appears aesthetics and style are abandoned. Whilst we see great design for other demographics, why has it taken so long to see this for older adults?

This week we bring in Stewart Dean, Principle at Marchese Partners to tackle these questions.

Why does design leave behind older people?

It is an industry-wide problem with architecture per se. Traditionally, architects thought that they could say they were a residential designer and that they design for elderly people without having any understanding of what the cohort and the age that you are designing to.


Marchese Partners have over 15 years of experience in designing for elderly people. We focus on this and carry out lots of research. We are also linked to several universities so we understand what makes an older person tick and what is important to them.

Generally in the industry, I think that this is glossed over where the architecture becomes the more dominant factor and you lose that connection with the resident and the person – we are designing for that person and so it is not necessarily about the architecture but about how that person works in the built form.


Stewart has been part of the Marchese team for over 17 years. During this time Stewart has worked in the Sydney office and was the Principle of the Brisbane office and has been instrumental in the growth of the senior living brand for Marchese Partners.

Through his experience in Australia working on landmark later living projects, Stewart has gained an innate understanding of the sector and how well-considered design can positively affect and influence the residents, to live more fulfilling active, happy lives. Stewart has been involved with steering committees at a number of later living developments in Australia and is committed to bettering the lives of the residents with this resident first attitude.

Stewart brings this experience into leading the London Studio to deliver the unique Guild Living offering.