Dickie Connell is Executive Creative Director of one of the UK's leading advertising agencies, Karmarama where he is responsible for the creative work of Just Eat, Halfords, The Guardian and Plusnet. You will know his work from being part of the creative team who created the meerkat for comparethemarket.com, one of the most popular and award winning advertising campaigns of the decade. He was also the Creative Lead on the wonderful, "Learn From Experience" Bookcase, celebrating a lifetime of wisdom that we acquire throughout our lives, part of the 2017 Design's Museum New Old exhibition. We spoke to him about Intergenerational Design and what it could mean for the advertising industry.

TAONR Do you think your age is relevant to how you see the world? Describe this world and how age impacts it.

Dickie Connell I’ve been alive for about 30 years. I’ve been doing my job for about 10 years. I’ve still got an incalculable amount to learn about everything. So I see the job and the world with a kind of wide-eyed naivety for the most part. That can be good and bad. More on that later.

TAONR From a designer’s viewpoint, what do you think are the biggest challenges the world shares across all ages?

Dickie Connell I’m a designer of communications. The sheer quantity of communications out there is overwhelming. Which means people resort to the most simplified version available. Nuance evaporates. Brexit happens. Trump gets elected. The challenge is to design communications that work inside an increasingly complex media environment. I don’t know what the solution is.

TAONR As designers what can we learn from people who are older and how do you feel this knowledge can inform our decision making?

Dickie Connell All the advice I fall back on day to day has been passed onto me by former bosses / former young people. They’ve who have lived through the same stuff I’m currently struggling with. The job is different, but it’s also largely the same.

TAONR As designers what can we learn from people who are younger and how do you feel this knowledge can inform our decision making?

Dickie Connell The naivety of youth can be inspiring and freeing. It’s a good partner to the acumen that comes from experience. Those two things working together can be really powerful. In advertising we have creative teams made up of two people. Invariably, they’re around the same age. It would be fascinating to pair up people at opposite ends of the age spectrum.  

TAONR What benefits and opportunities does an ‘ageless’ society provide us with?

Dickie Connell More communication, more collaboration, more rounded thinking. As soon we stop mindlessly denouncing or mindlessly revering older people, we’ll all be better off. And visa versa for younger people.

"In advertising we have creative teams made up of two people. Invariably, they’re around the same age. It would be fascinating to pair up people at opposite ends of the age spectrum."

Dickie Connell.

The Lifetime of Experience Bookcase at the Design Museum's New Old Exhibition.

TAONR How do you think we should change how we view and think about age when we are designing?

Dickie Connell Advertisers need to move away from depicting products in the hands of young people, as if that automatically denotes modernity.

TAONR 83% of people of all ages in our recent cross-age study want age-neutral and inclusive products and services. Why do you feel demographic-segmentation  still plays such a significant role within the design process?

Dickie Connell Demographic-segmentation is (mostly) a lazy fall back. It applies a bit of method to the madness of design and creativity. In reality, people don’t fit into boxes. We’re all just spilled out on the floor in one big mess of humanity.

TAONR What are your thoughts on designing with the customer / worker / citizen as part of the design process?

Dickie ConnelI It is essential. We’d use the word ‘human’. The ‘human experience’ should be the starting point for any piece of design.

TAONR Ageless or intergenerational design? Which phrase do you prefer? Is there any other words or language you feel we should consider?

Dickie Connell Again ‘human design’ would be the ideal. But, accepting that the point needs to be made, ‘ageless design’ is simple and inspiring. It also feels close to ‘timeless design’, which is nice. —

You can find out more about Karmarama here.

"Ageless design’ is simple and inspiring. It also feels close to ‘timeless design’, which is nice."

Dickie Connell.