Jan Garde is the founder of The Embassies of Good Living, based in Zurich, a global co-living concept that changes the way we perceive and experience later life.
Jan Garde has worked in marketing and customer experience for more than 15 years, at companies including Jung von Matt, Mercedes Benz, MTV, UniCredit, Red Bull and Vodafone. From 2014 until 2018 he led the design network department at Deutsche Telekom, where his work won multiple international awards and recognition. In 2018 he founded The Embassies of Good Living, a global co-living/co-retiring concept that changes the way we perceive and experience later life, based in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a passionate chef and marine activist, and has served as a board member for various non-profit and sporting organizations.
AGEIST: What is The Embassies of Good Living?
Jan: The Embassies of Good Living is a premium co-retirement brand. We’re building a global network and designing new co-living concepts with a superior hospitality and service understanding, where care is seamlessly integrated. We design homes that can be filled with individual experiences and will be filled with a global community of like-minded tenants, members and visitors.
A Positive Perspective on Aging
AGEIST: What sort of person do you anticipate this would be for?
Jan: Loneliness kills more people than smoking and drunk driving combined, a recent study revealed, and ranks as the biggest fear of people aged 70 and older. That’s why we’re building spaces that foster communal experiences. It’s about quality time spent together. We don’t believe in age segmentation as such. We deeply believe quality of life is ageless. As we are all getting older, it doesn’t mean we have to enjoy life any less. The Embassies of Good Living provides a positive perspective on aging in an otherwise anxious world, because we believe that enjoying later life with others is better than living it alone.
AGEIST: How do you feel about the intersecting trends of urbanization and aging population? It seems that we are at the beginning of a huge wave here.
Jan: Absolutely. We strive to make sure our ambassadors can continue to live the global life. Just because we might need to adapt to certain circumstances as we age, we strive to make sure our residents and members remain mobile and thereby a vital part of society. Too often we have seen that when people get less mobile, the thinking is we park that demographic somewhere in an off-location. Maybe overlooking some green. We know, however, that remaining a vital part and participant in the urban social and cultural world is what gets us motivated, challenged, sparked – particularly in later life.
AGEIST: How will the Embassies interact with the surrounding community, and is this different from what has been happening in the past with age-specific housing?
Jan: We build communities. On the local level, we strive to build an ecosystem that is as attractive to the 30/40-year-olds as it is to the silver surfers. We build bridges between these groups. On average, 30% of our locations will be communal spaces, open to the public and actively programmed to attract other people too. As Pete, an 86-year-old, told me: “The worst thing about this retirement home? Only old people here.” We design spaces that thrive on social integration.
A Global Platform
AGEIST: Do you feel there is potential for this sort of initiative in cities outside of Europe?
Jan: Absolutely. We seek to build a global platform here. Our home is Zurich; that’s where we want to open the first location in 2021. The global roll-out is set to see locations popping up in North America, Europe and Asia for now. We don’t rush into things too quickly, though. We will do it our way. We figure: founded in Switzerland, globally at home.
YBL: “Making sure tomorrow is going to be great!”
AGEIST: You are coming a long way to be with us on June 11. What are you looking forward to most about the YBL conference?
Jan: The other speakers and panelists are world class, and I strongly believe that this day in June is going to be the magical manifestation of what AGEIST has started, and taking this into a totally new format. I am super excited to be able to participate and look forward to learn about the other projects and people. I am coming with an open mind and expect to meet and get to know a bunch of amazing people, who all have one thing in common: making sure tomorrow is going to be great!
Jan will be speaking at YBL on property and community, June 11 in Los Angeles. Buy your tickets here.