Young Designers and Design Sensitivity to the Aging Eye

By Asha L. Hegde and Gwendolyn Hustvedt.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study explored the perceptions of young U.S. designers regarding apparel color choices for the elderly women and compared it with established research findings regarding color perceptions of the older eye. By 2030, there will be approximately 71 million Americans over age of 65. With aging, the crystalline lens of the eye ages as well, which in turn effects color perception. Research on the ability of the aging eye to perceive color demonstrates that the yellowing of lens in the older adult creates problems with discriminating short wavelength colors (blue and violet) as well as seeing colors in low saturation such as pastels.
This study assessed design students regarding their perceptions of which likely colors they felt elderly women would chose for themselves. One hundred and thirty-eight student volunteers from textile classes offered in a large university were surveyed about their perceptions of various colors and saturations. In one part of the survey, students were asked to rank the likelihood that elderly women would choose specific colors or palettes for their apparel. Colors described as “soft/calming”, “soothing”, and “pastel” were selected as the most likely for elderly women to choose for themselves for apparel. Further, colors described as “brilliant”, “bright” and “vivid” were selected as among the least likely for elderly women to choose for themselves for apparel. When shown palettes of colors, the participants rated the bright palette as the worst choice for the elderly and the low saturation palette as the best choice.
The results suggest that young designers are unaware that products they design in low saturation colors are more likely to be perceived by the elderly consumer as shades of gray. Education of young designers should include a discussion of the importance of considering the aging eye when designing for the elderly.

Keywords: Fashion-Merchandising, Apparel Design, Color Selection, Aging Eye, Elderly Women

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 956.282KB).

Dr. Asha L. Hegde

Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Asha L. Hegde, Ph.D, RID, LC, is an Assistant Professor of Interior Design and Lighting, in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences at Texas State University-San Marcos. Hegde focuses her research on the effects of light and color on individual’s health and behavior and overall well being of user within the interior environment—specifically the older adult. Her research papers regarding effects of light and color on the aging eye appear in the Research Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences as well as in Journal of Applied Gerontology. She is also a certified lighting designer and a registered interior designer in the State of Texas who specializes in architectural lighting.

Dr. Gwendolyn Hustvedt

Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA

Gwendolyn Hustvedt (Ph.D. 2006 Kansas State University) is an Assistant Professor of Textiles and Fashion Merchandising in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences at Texas State University-San Marcos. Her area of research interest focuses on product development for the lifestyle of health and sustainability consumer as well as education for sustainable development. Most recently, her research on animal welfare motivated consumers of wool and labeling for social responsibility by apparel brands has been published by the International Journal of Consumer Studies.

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