It must be at least 15 years ago that my folk art painting teacher appeared at class with a walking stick that she had decorated for a friend.
Gone was the boring brown. Instead she’d background painted the cane in a mint green, and then covered it with delicate daisies of white, yellow and blue.
It was gorgeous.
It was also pretty unusual.
Since then I’ve noticed good-looking creeping onto similar products on sale at National Trust shops and the RHS, for example. Places where people who enjoy life but need a little help might choose to visit.
It seems to have been a long time coming, but according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, designers and start-ups are now realising the value of aesthetics alongside practicality for a gently ageing population.
The news service found businesses on both sides of the Atlantic turning their attention to mobility helpers that are lighter, more manageable, and good looking.
Why? It’s partly because the end-user experience has become core to learning design. And also because the group of consumers classed as ‘older’ or ‘less mobile’ are getting on the internet and searching out what they want to own, rather than what other people think they should own. So they want something that’s a pleasure to own and use, and can be a talking point for social contact.
Whether it’s a walking cane, a walker, or another mobility helper, the people who are buying are more discerning and demanding than a generation ago. They are also regularly charged with in many cases being the owners of high disposable incomes. No wonder there’s a growing number of ventures willing to invest in a more beautiful lifestyle for longer lifetimes.