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Designing for your future self: Let’s talk about sex
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.
Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Hot Octopuss, a brand revolutionising sexual pleasure for men. He began experimenting with making sex toys at an early age, but as an adult was surprised by the lack of choice available for men and the stigma surrounding male sex toy use. Adam and his childhood friend Jules set up Hot Octopuss and five years after launching, PULSE I, the world’s first ‘guybrator’, hit the market and sold out of its first 10,000 units in six months. The company now has seven products on the market.
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.
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.
Mervyn is a qualified social worker and formerly a Director of Social Services and the Better Government for Older People Programme (Cabinet Office). An author, TedX speaker and contributor to numerous health and care publications, Mervyn is a Founder member of ChangeAGEnts Co-operative Collective and Co-Founder Member of the Later Life Audio and Radio Co-operative (LLARC). He's also a member of the Sexual Intimacy in Later Life UK Forum (SILFF).
Jackie is Director of Jackie Marshall-Cyrus & Associates Ltd, a consultancy specialising in innovation for later lifestyles, and Founder of Jackie’s Revolution, a campaign for new models of long-term care. Formerly Lead Specialist on Innovate UK’s Assisted Living Platform, she was a chief architect of DALLAS, the world’s largest assisted living demonstrator. Her renown is linked to ‘The Long-Term Care Revolution SBRI National Challenge’, aimed to disrupt the institutional model of long-term care in the UK.
Suzanne is the co-founder of Advantages of Age, an organisation that challenges the media narrative around ageing. A community of writers, thinkers, and creative people of age, AofA celebrates alternative age narratives through creativity, querying, and rebelliousness. Members lead by example and come together to create social connections and inspire the general public on what it means to be older. Suzanne started and hosts the Facebook page 'Sex Advice for Seniors' and has featured in many publications.
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 encouraged.
Suitable Age: 18+
A limited number of tickets are available through our 'Emerging Designers Access Scheme'. If you are an emerging designer and facing financial barriers to attend, please register here.
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