The Royal College of Art today launches a Pounds 1 million research and development centre on designing for new ways of living, working and travelling.
The Helen Hamlyn Research Foundation Centre is building on the college's DesignAge programme, which looks at the design needs of an ageing population.
Director Jeremy Myerson said: "We want to expand this brief to include other big social changes that are affecting people of all ages and circumstances."
But Mr Myerson said there was growing concern that social science research is not being translated into the practical design of environments, products, services and communications systems that people will need.
"The emphasis will very much be on the development end of the R&D spectrum so that we can come up with real solutions to real-life problems," he said.
The centre, sponsored by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation, will collaborate with other universities and colleges, business and industry and government departments.
Among planned projects is a collaboration with Cambridge University and Central St Martins College of Art to develop software tools and design information databases. Another will link with De Montfort University to look at the fast-growing 24-hour "call centre" sector, which delivers banking and shopping.
"It is a very demanding, stressful physical environment for people who have to work in them. We would like to be able to redesign it so that it is less so."