First diamond attempt: design for a dignified old age

This blog post reports on work-in-progress within the DfG course! The post is written by group 1A, working in collaboration with the Digital Population and Data Services (DVV) and the Ministry of Finance (VM) on the project ‘Life events for a dignified old age’. ‘Life events for a dignified old age’. The group includes Elena Amaglio, Jisoo Kim and Iiro Torma from the Collaborative & Industrial Design program and Shutong Zhang from the Creative sustainability program.

Written by: Shutong Zhang

What is our new mission?

As we get older, we will stop working full-time and move into retirement. People’s lives will change to some extent, perhaps losing daily contact with work partners or becoming active in new communities of interest. These changes may bring new feelings about life, loneliness or leisure. Yet, what happens after retirement is not fully understood in order to develop new social services. Therefore, in this year’s Design for Government course, our group will try to understand the lives and needs of retired people and contribute to a dignified future for retired people through design methodology.

There are three key points in our mission: dignity as the goal, life events as the focus and digitalization as the tool. That means that we aim to create a dignified retirement by enhancing the experience of life events through digital tools. Each person may have their own definition of dignity based on different life experiences. Whatever one’s dignity is, staying alone without socializing or being supported in the community, they all need to be respected in our inclusive society. Therefore, we would like to explore how retired people define their own dignity and contribute to a diverse future. To better understand the intangible feeling of dignity, we will discuss it regarding life events. Life events are occurrences or milestones in an individual’s life that can have a major impact on their physical, emotional, or social well-being. In the context of our project, retirement will be considered a life event consisting of several sub-events, such as access to pensions, access to healthcare and participation in community activities. To improve the experience of these life events, we will consider digitalization as a potential tool to create efficient and cost-effective services. Identifying what data is valuable and how it should flow between different sectors will be key to delivering digital services to older people. 

Figure 1. Mission structure

What have we done?

Our design process follows the double diamond model in this project, meaning we need to diverge and converge repeatedly. In our first diamond attempt, we opened our horizons by inviting experts from the government to participate in a roundtable, after which we identified the keywords for the design mission and divided the research directions in the supergroup. The roundtable was attended by representatives from the Digital Population and Data Services (DVV) and the Finnish Ministry of Finance (VM). The Q&A and the co-created stakeholder mapping session helped us to identify three keywords – dignity, life events and digitalization – as described in the mission part and to guide our supergroup into three research tracks: megatrend perspective, citizen perspective, and organization perspective. Each of the three groups (1A, 1B, 1C) in the supergroup with the same design brief will take their own perspective while sharing their research plan and insights with the others. And our group 1A will start researching the citizen perspective.

Figure 2. Project Progress

What is our next step?

It is difficult to see the boundary of the pension system because health care, activities, family and so on are all related to the life of retired people. But we still need to define the sub-systems that we want to start dealing with to bring about service transitions. Therefore, our next step will be a second diamond attempt, which will diverge to find what is influencing people’s lives from the three perspectives (megatrends, citizens, and organizations) and converge to a meaningful service design direction. Throughout this process, we will continue to modify our primary research plan to guide our collaboration across groups, without being constrained by the plan. Desk research and field research will be the two parallel parts of our research plan for the citizen perspective. We will mainly conduct desktop research by reading the “Handbook for the ageing society” of the Finnish academic journal “Gerontologia” (Old Age Studies), which provides us with a comprehensive introduction to how policy (Vaarama & Jylhä, 2020) and markets (Kollektiivi et al., 2020) can contribute to creating an active ageing society. The field research will first be carried out in different retirement communities, such as immigrant communities and sports communities. As the guests at the roundtable said, “If you think about the diversity of the population, there will be a lot, more even expectations and different kinds of personal solutions”. We have prepared our questions and can’t wait to get insights from the citizens’ point of view!

Figure 3. Further Research Plan


kollektiivi, V., Hoppania, H.-K., Karsio, O., Näre, L., Olakivi, A., Sointu, L., . . . Zechner, M. (2020). Hoivan arvo markkinoilla ja markkinoitta. Gerontologia, 34(4), 345-348. Retrieved from

Vaarama, M., & Jylhä, M. (2020). Syrjintä pois ja palvelut kuntoon – kohti tietoon perustuvaa ikääntymispolitiikkaa. Gerontologia, 34(4), 317-322. Retrieved from

The DfG course runs for 14 weeks each spring – the 2023 course has now started and runs from 27 Feb to 31 May. It’s an advanced studio course in which students work in multidisciplinary teams to address project briefs commissioned by governmental ministries in Finland. The course proceeds through the spring as a series of teaching modules in which various research and design methods are applied to address the project briefs. Blog posts are written by student groups, in which they share news, experiences and insights from within the course activities and their project development. More information here about the DfG 2023 project briefs.

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