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Designing for your future self: Let’s talk about sex

Join the debate about the future of ageing in the latest session in the Designing for Your Future Self talks series, curated by Design Age Institute.

What to expect

Can humans ever be too old for good sex?

In this session you will hear from a panel of expert researchers, designers and ageing advocates on designing for our future sex lives, and how design can help us all maintain intimacy and pleasure as we age.

Increasing numbers of older adults are continuing to have healthy and satisfying sex lives as they age. In 2016, 60% of men and 37% of women in the UK over 65 reported being sexually active, with many reporting greater satisfaction with their sex lives as they age.

But despite the facts and however progressive we are becoming in terms of sexual diversity and inclusion, there remains a tendency to desexualise people once they reach “a certain age”.

We are all ageing and for many of us, our bodies, libido and sexual capacity can and will change as we age but that does not mean we stop wanting sex or that we should be denied our need to experience pleasure and intimacy throughout our lives.

Yet taboos and negative stereotypes around sex and ageing leave many older adults marginalised and silenced - without the support they need to express their sexuality safely, confidently and joyfully.

There is clear evidence of the health benefits of a healthy sex life whether with a partner or on our own - including a reduction in stress, increase in wellbeing and stronger immune response.

From sex toys, sexual health services, marketing and dating apps, design has an important role in enabling people to enjoy and express their sexuality at every age as well as helping to break the stigma around sex and ageing and widen the scope of what form of intimacy and pleasure can take as we get older.

#YourFutureSelf #AgeAgencyJoy


Colum Lowe

Colum is a senior design leader with a significant track record of developing inclusive products and services in the private, public and charitable sectors.  In 2020 Colum joined the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art as Director for Design Age Institute. He has been Head of Design at the Ministry of Justice, Sainsbury’s, Homebase and the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, and has run design firms Crabtree Hall, CaulderMoore as well as his own consultancy.

George Lee

In her role as Community Lead for the Design Age Institute, George launched This Age Thing in 2021 to build a diverse community of age activists, storytellers, creatives, designers and change-makers. A respected disrupter, innovator, and leader with 25+ years of experience, George is Director of the design studio This is Real Art, co-founder of The Age of No Retirement and specialist consultancy The Common Land, championing cross-generational thinking as a key for social and economic impact.

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Booking information

Adult: £8
Concession: £5
Members: £5

For your safety, we are operating at a reduced capacity for our events. Increased cleaning has also been implemented across the museum. Face masks are mandatory unless exempt.

Suitable Age: 18+

Please note that this talk will be held in-person at the Design Museum however, in the event of strict COVID-19 restrictions, it will be streamed digitally and you will be notified of the decision one week ahead of time.

Design Age Institute

The Design Age Institute is the UK’s national strategic unit for design and the healthy ageing economy. The Institute works with designers, businesses, researchers and communities to help address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society through the transformative power of design.

Background image: Anna Shvets / Pexels