The Estonian Association of Designers has started a project Cities For All – Tallinn For All , introducing the megatrends of this century that should be known by all designers, architects, producers, public service employees as well as service designers. The purpose is to make the city easily accessible and comfortable to use to all age groups, nations, mothers with small children and persons with special needs by means of social involvement. The challenges arising from the needs of users in the process of creating new products and services where problems are turned into new possibilities and profitable innovations.


In the development of the society, changes have always been driven by technologies and market, relying to a great extant on products, means of production and the attractiveness of brands. Users as people with their needs and variances have started to play an increasingly important role in this process lately. The era of social innovation and design has dawned. In addition to globalisation, digitalisation, changing values, economic growth and immaterialisation of the industry, the megatrends of this century include demographic changes as the society is gradually ageing. It has been estimated that by the year 2025, there will be approximately 113.5 million people of more than 65 years of age living in the European Union.


If our days of retirement or ways of continuing our lives or the lives of our loved ones after braking some bones or becoming paralysed is not on our minds now then when will we ever start to think about it? The elderly and handicapped people are also very keen to travel. Prolongation of life expectancy dramatically increases the number of retired travellers.


Tourism is one of the leading global industries with a significant rate of employment. There is a ruthless competition going on between tourism destinations, as the industry is constantly trying to find new ways to draw travellers towards different countries with various attractions such as history, entertainment or travelling comfort. Travelling comfort is established by good design of products and services: flawless information systems, carefully planned and communicated traffic systems, easy-to-use ticket vending terminals, accessibility of transport and buildings to persons with special needs, hotels that consider the wishes of their guests, free WiFi, considering the needs of children and older people, etc.

The pioneers of Design For All were performing at the seminars, conferences and workshops. Of special interest was the results of a design competition under the Cities For All - Tallinn for All banner, where a set of 10 challenges, from better street mapping and signage to sidewalk improvements and information technology solutions for the disabled, were tackled by up-and-coming designers mentored by leading lights in the design world. During the period of a year, the aim was to develop around ten new products or services – accessibility solutions, new business models, etc. The students started developing the solutions under the guidance of their mentors and the workgroups communicated in a special internet environment. In May, 2011, all the groups met again at the international conference Mobility, where they introduced their projects and tested their products on users and other conference guests. 


Finn Petren (Sweden), the president of EIDD Design For All and ambassador Pete Kercher (Italy) tried to find the answer to the question ‘Why Design for All?’. Francesc Aragall (Design for All Foundation, Spain) talked about a city without barriers and explains that the success that Barcelona has in the tourism sector was not only due to its old town and in cooperation with Kalle Pabut (Estonia) and a group of international students mapped the accessibility of the city under; Royal College of Art’s Julia Cassim (England) provided examples of service design and talked about the difficulties associated with finding the right way in a strange environment and was slated to work with Kristjan Mändmaa and Norman Orro (Estonia) on creating a consistent graphics and signage system for Tallinn—which, if you were a driver in the capital or are trying to figure out the trams, would be a solid improvement. Italian designer Avril Accolla told what to regard as important when looking at products and packaging in order to make them useful for left handed and handicapped people. Villu Urban’s presentations were based on examples of accessible Estonia.


This initiative is aiming to improve the quality of everyday life of local people as well as tourists. With the help of students from different countries, specialists, interest groups of persons with special needs and others, a dozen new products and services were about to be created during the course of a year. The final solutions were introduced at the Innovation Festival IF…held in Tallinn September 2011; Finland (World Design Capital 2012).


Estonian Association of Designers

Cite du Design

Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design de Saint-Étienne

City of Tallinn

Tallinn – European Capital of Culture 2011 Foundation

Estonian Academy of Arts

Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences

UT Pärnu College

Transportation Department

Municipal Engineering Services Department

The Estonian Chamber of Disabled People

Tallinn City’s Board of Disabled People

Black Nights Film Festival

EIDD (Institute for Design and Disability - Design For All Europe)