HBL Profile: Omhu, designing for an ageing population

Friday, 17 June 2011

Rie Nørregaard, Susan Towers and Susy Korb of Omhu

Meaning "with great care" in Danish, New York-based Omhu is a design studio and online retail store aimed at supporting people's abilities as they change throughout life. WGSN-homebuildlife met with co-founders Susan Towers and Rie Nørregaard during New York Design Week to discuss their growing business.

Omhu canes

You’ve created this brand for those that you love and stumbled upon a very successful business model. How much do you think this sector will grow as the population ages?

RN: Well if you look at how rapidly the population is ageing it gives some indication of the opportunities within the design sector. I think where the lag is culturally, and emotionally, is that we are really, in the western hemisphere especially, really focused on youth and the culture of youth and we’re really scared of the other side of life.

How will you expand the product offer in future?

RN: We are currently working on a cane dock. When we are designing products we want them to have a transformational quality, so when they are not in use they turn into something else and different people can use them at different times. One of the biggest problems with a cane is when it's not in use it falls over, so we're designing a dock that will be mounted on the wall and has a nightlight, which is very practical. It's a design object but it's also very functional. We're doing a bath chair and a walker – we're taking things where there is room for improvement and where we have something to add.

WGSN-homebuildlife subscribers can read the full interview here.