Stakeholders from the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor community, healthcare industry,
and design sector convened to investigate
health concerns of today’s aging population.



November 10th, 2017



I was part of the master of design students team (5 students in total) who facilitated the charette. We had 5 areas, divided into 5 tables. I led the "Aging with Vitality" table.


"A design charrette is a workshop-style technique that provides a collaborative space that allows for (...) cross-pollination of design ideas to occur."

Hanington, Bruce, and Bella Martin. Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions. Rockport Publishers, 2012.

We considered five areas: including Aging with Vitality, Diet and Nutrition, Mobility, Social Engagement, and Remote Access to Healthcare.


During one full day, we completed a series of design-led activities in teams to investigate the five themes in an effort to recommend attributes of possible solutions for aging populations.

Here’s what we did:

Welcome and


An overview of the
geriatric population and
human-centered design
by domain experts from
Michigan Medicine and
the Stamps School of Art
and Design.

Know your


Groups explored the
problem space through
exercises that helped
them visualize the
people, environment,
and systems integral to
understanding context.



Groups were guided
through activities that
helped them create and
analyze foundational
shared understandings of
the problem space.



A series of activities
helped groups generate
empathy for primary
stakeholders and
understand their
behaviors and



Groups framed value
statements to
understand the needs
of their primary



Groups explored the
functional, emotional,
and social qualities
needed to generate
solutions within their

Breaking into groups

Participants break into their respective teams to engage in icebreakers and receive their themes.


The prompt

Taking care of the body physically and maintaining mental wellbeing can help to slow down or prevent problems that come with aging. However, it can be difficult to notice these incremental changes and adapt accordingly.


A case study and background research were also provided for participants.

Know your context

Mind mapping: participants discuss and deepen their understanding of the case study.

Frame insights

Experience Mapping: Participants explore the relationships between their case study character and the topic area.

Generate empathy

Empathy Mapping: Participants empathize with the lived experience of the target population.

Explore values

Card selection: Participants create value statements to ideate attributes for preventative health strategies.

Define attributes

Attribute categorization: Participants categorize the attributes and brainstorm solutions for their topic area.


Groups share their experience of the charrette and final attributes for future ideation.

The Aging with Vitality team began to develop attributes for solutions and felt constrained
by the activity. They pivoted to exploring What does aging with vitality mean to you? to
consider solutions in the areas of Learning - Safety - Social - Nutrition - Autonomy.

• A solution that motivates the person instead of considering them to be “too old”
• Support being active
• Always check a second opinion
• Exercises adapted to aging populations
• App to find people that can provide assistance
• Consider the reality of what aging populations are capable of doing physically
• Active engagement that supports making new friends
• Finding new hobbies especially the ones that involve people
• Connect the elderly with social worker and doctor in community
• Have a volunteer visit the elderly on a regular basis

• Willingness to adapt
• learn new things
• Safety/ Avoiding catastrophic injuries
• Reduce family concerns
• Exposure to young people
• Staying socially active
• Maintaining a sense of personal meaning
• Maintaining connection to relatives
• Staying active in the community
• Emotional connections
• Having opinions valued
• Nutrition/diet management
• Maximizing health
• Not relying on people for daily activities
• Autonomy
• Independence
• Maintaining “me”
• Financial Independence
• Valuing my memories

The outcomes of the charrette were used for the Integrated Product Development course, which I also participated. You can read more about it here.

You read more about the VentureWell Charrette at the Stamps website.

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