Monthly Archives: June 2009

great drawers

these spirited emergency room drawers found on flickr are not precisely my taste, but a simple, visually effective way to brighten an otherwise standard, utilitarian medical cart. the one comment on the flickr page speaks the truth as the author notes “the colors in theis are really cool. not hospital-y at all.”


world health design

world health design is a journal, published out of sweden, with content exclusively related to the field of health care facility design. past issues can be downloaded in pdf format for free here on the international academy for design and health website. meanwhile, the above link offers subscription information and some online content. while the graphical quality of the journal is dubious, it offers insightful statistics, editorials, and case studies from experts in the field from around the world. the tone is neither business focused, nor academic and contributors include both medical professionals and designers. the publishing organization also offers several design and health awards, conferences, and books.


jason middlebrook's mural in the bone marrow transfer unit of mount sinai

legendary artist ryan mcginness's mural at nyu's university child study center

garrett phelan's original market drawings at st. vincents

an organization similar to london’s vitalarts, new york based rxart commissions major contemporary artists to make thoughtful, site specific pieces for hospitals. they also acquire and curate original works and prints to be hung throughout patient spaces. founded by diane brown, a pre-med major who later ran a soho gallery, there is again a unique and admirable balance between sensitivity to the unique hospital environment, and a commitment to serious contemporary art in all the pieces rxart installs. from the rxart mission statement:

“We work with some of the most renowned and respected artists and arts professionals working today to provide exposure to the finest contemporary art in patient, procedure and examination rooms of healthcare facilities. We do not compromise the quality of the art we work with any more than a patient would knowingly compromise on the quality of their healthcare.

We do this because we believe in and support art’s capacity to provide hope and comfort in the most difficult of circumstances and to contribute immeasurably to spiritual and emotional health. Research evidence supports our belief that viewing art promotes a healing physiology which fortifies the immune system, changes pain perception, and decreases hospital length of stay.”

dementia disco ball

images from a touching article in today’s ny times about overnight programs for individuals with dementia include a simple but powerful use of light and environmental design in sensory stimulation rooms. the author describes a scene where “next door, a quieter sort of party unfolded in a darkened room filled with sensory delights: a yellow spotlight danced off a disco ball, new age music purred softly, and a citrus smell filled the air.” look what a magical difference such a simple, easily initiated effect can have on an otherwise stark space.

vital arts

marta marce’s wall-painting for the infection and immunity clinic at the royal london hospital

at the thoughtful suggestion of rowena dring, the artist i featured yesterday, i checked out vital arts. it’s a london non-profit that is doing amazing work commissioning works, curating collections, installing gallery exhibitions, and infusing patient experiences with participatory art activities at barts and the royal london hospitals. vital arts has worked with some of my all time favorite artists, including anka dabrowska, a young artist i never imagined would be embraced by a hospital curator. in realizing that hospitals can infuse public art with a tremendous power, they carefully strike an appropriate balance between reassuring accessibility and provocative contemporary relevance. case in point, marta marce’s wall-painting for the infection and immunity clinic at the royal london hospital, featured above. it is an organization truly doing wonderful work.

art: rowena dring

on the topic of art that would be absolutely perfect for health care environments: rowena dring! colorful, but restrained nature-inspired abstracts that loosely reference the comfort of paint-by-number paintings or quilts. intricate but understandable. all works are soft stitched fabric over canvas.

the architecture of hospitals

the architecture of hospitals. the publisher’s description of the book:

“Architecture affects people. The architecture of hospitals contributes to the well-being and recovery of patients. This bold proposition dates back to the late 18th century, and has been a recurring theme in the functional development of hospital architecture ever since. The most recent manifestation of this was the phenomenon of ‘Evidence-Based Design’, which originated in the USA. This methodology compares the effects of various spatial factors and provided indisputable evidence that architecture does indeed work for the first time. The positive influence of architecture is one of the two cornerstones of The Architecture of Hospitals. The other is architecture as an historical discipline with a wide-ranging cultural dimension. The hospital, being a public and representative building with a special societal function, is the ideal vehicle to express this cultural dimension. From French and German examples it seems that good architecture can, moreover, contribute to an agreeable, orderly and well maintained environment, which perhaps has a greater impact on the functioning of the hospital than the effects of Evidence-Based Design….  it is a richly illustrated publication which is constructed around five themes: culture, healthcare concepts, Evidence-Based Design, technology and country-specific presentations. The book includes a selection of new, ground-breaking designs interspersed with a number of in-depth historical studies.”