My name is Adam Lesniak and I am a student at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. Although my focus is in architectural design, I also enjoy product design.
When I was young, I remember visiting my grandmother and watching her struggle to move about her own home, whether she was sitting down, standing up, or just moving from one side of the room to the other. I always wanted to help her so she wouldn’t have to move so much, but that seemed to have a negative effect on her self-esteem. I noticed that it wasn’t that she was incapable of doing things, but rather her furniture didn’t allow her to easily do so. I always wanted the change that. Now, an important goal of mine is to design homes and products for people of all ages. I still ask myself if my grandmother would use and enjoy my designs.
Inspired by my grandmother for this project, I took an original couch created specifically for the Schindler/Chase house in Hollywood, California. The issues I found in the design were its sharp corners, low seat, and lack of back support. I wanted to redesign the couch, but stay as true to the original design as I could. I first raised the seat and added a wider back support. I raised the shelf to the height of the armrest to maximize its use and bring it closer to the user.
Since this couch is settled in the center of a room, I made the back of the couch a hand rail to make it easier to walk through the space. Finally, I curved all of the sharp edges and corners to make it safer, but still retained the sleek style to create this boomer-friendly design.
By Jeff Rosenfeld
Adam is a Junior in the Architecture School at Parsons. He was enrolled in my seminar, “Design for Aging Populations,” in Spring 2015.
Every student at Parsons must do a thesis. And my seminar challenges the students to “Gerontologize” their thesis — make it relevant for aging populations.
Adam chose to gerontologize a design for home furnishings. He took a love seat which was already well-designed, and made it more relevant for our aging population by rethinking the form and function of the piece.
Jeffrey P. Rosenfeld, Ph.D.
Gerontologist and author of Unassisted Living (see below) has built a career upon his path breaking research into older people, and the design of the homes, communities and products which define them.