Monthly Archives: May 2009

ny times on new hospital design

on may 18th, the new york times published one of it’s first stories looking specificity at trends driven by research in the field of medical design, “health outcomes driving new hospital design.” author carol ann campbell takes a serious look at the importance of single-patient rooms, and mentions a mounting interest in evidence based design that suggests empirically that hospital design is directly related to the healing process. the above illustration of a single patient room in michigan accompanies the article, and i absolutely love the daybed.

last week’s piece is a slightly more research-oriented rehash of a similar story ran in 2004 called “where the healing touch starts with hospital design” which started with a basic hypothesis that the environment at a hospital effects the patient’s treatment (yes) and then lunges into a description of rikshospitalet hospital in norway, never to return to theory. back in 2000, if a hospital was utilizing design to make patients more comfortable it was grouped under the headline of “hospitals are discovering their inner spa” with the implication that good medical design was something new-agey or absurdly luxurious. i’m curious about what the times’ next hospital-design headline might be and if this shift from treating it as an extraneous element of a machine driven hospital, or a legitimate medical concern with very real effects on patients.


my dentist’s office

my dentist’s office. i have no shame in admitting that, while sifting through the hundreds of dentists in new york, my primary criteria was the design of the office. i ended up at gotham dental, primarily for aesthetic reasons. the dentist is an art collector with a fabulous sense of design. the waiting room has classic mid-century modern furniture, and each treatment room features a selection of original art. these touches truly makes trips to the dentist a more humane experience. those marco zanuso chairs are without a doubt the most comfortable waiting room furniture i have ever encountered. download a 2004 article from interior design magazine (PDF, annoying) about the design decisions from interior designer doug stiles’ website, here.

ashtray waiting room

flashback! dated, yes, but i would take this over a souless waiting room with navy blue fern patterns anyday. the baby blue and brown are surprisingly tranquil, and the space planning here is actually top notch. i love the way the low slung secretaries desk is truly part of the grouping, not a formidable presence at the top of the room. i’m also impressed with the use of those small table/chair groupings help to break up the space. one thing that i will never understand about waiting rooms is the manner in which you often find yourself awkwardly staring at people directly across from you. by using these smaller, flexible groupings, that face-off is successfully avoided, the the whole space feels more organic, even cafe like. also, note THE ASHTRAY in the surgical wing. i think if i ever have a loved one in surgery i’d like to go back in time and chainsmoke the time away in this waiting room.

remedy, chicago

i am head over heels in love with chicago design firm, remedy. page after page of gutsy, quirky, relevant, well researched branding and communication strategies for health their information page poses the question “why we exist” and answers it with “health needs a makeover.” they state:

“The relationship we all have with our health is complicated and decades in the making. It began the moment we realized mac-n-cheese was a lot more fun to eat than broccoli. At that instant, broccoli became a ‘should.’ Pile on years of dreaded doctor visits and mom’s refrain that anything yucky or unpleasant was ‘good for you,’ and you’ve got one tainted view of health. How do you undo decades of such baggage? We start by being real and honest in our work. We take the anxiety or ambivalence people feel about health as a path into demystifying a healthcare process for them or making them laugh at their preconceived notions. Brands that embrace how people really feel about them earn points with consumers by being relateable.”

corporate feeling, burgundy pleather doctors offices certainly do nothing to dislodge these unpleasant associations. but beyond reupholstering, it is important to look at the branding of healthcare spaces and the ways that they communicate information to patients, be it the location of an exit, or the nuances of a diagnosis. the above materials were created by remedy as part of a comprehensive redesign for edward hospital and health services, and carry through the the hospital’s website (worth clicking on to explore.)

phillips, ambient experience

phillips ambient experience can do to medical procedures what virgin america’s interiors can do to cross-country flights. using technology to provide a personalized space, bathed in shifting light can, in both cases, enhance an individuals comfort during an often anxiety-provoking experience. through a combination of strategic lighting, patient-chosen themes, and careful space planning, procedure rooms are transformed into soothing all encompassing environments. phillips has a very comprehensive website with information on the designs, including several videos here.

jamie bush, surgical centers

contemporary, hospitality inspired, design for surgical centers by los angeles designer jamie bush. perhaps a bit too of-the-moment for timeless appeal, but the bulbous white ceramics provide a playful unity between the spaces and the pinwheel of yellow chairs offer a waiting space both practical and whimsical.