interiorsandsources.com january2018 interiors+sources 25
Nearly everyone is a healthcare consumer. Similar to designing for hospitality spaces,
the challenge for healthcare is designing interior spaces and furniture for an
individual’s needs as well as the needs of the larger population. Healthcare design
must acknowledge and support a wide range of socioeconomic, education, physical,
and health factors. We must equip ourselves with rigorous research, tools, and
processes to understand the factors that lead to solving real problems for the
greater whole and to accommodate the personalization of space.
Human-centered design is critical to create an exceptional experience in a
space. Understanding the complex needs of those who use a space is important
to the design process to ensure their needs are met. In a healthcare setting, it
could be creating a solution for a patient that has a difficult time getting up
from a seat, how the number of seats are defined to improve the clinical
workflow, or designing a light source that is easy to reach, clean, and doesn’t
disturb the patient.
Infection control is paramount in a healthcare space. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 20 patients develop an infection while in
the hospital, and medical errors and hospital-acquired infections are among the
leading causes of death in the U.S. Cleanability standards dictate materials in a
healthcare space, which means that all furnishings and materials must stand up
to institutional disinfectants and cleaners. This can pose a challenge to find
materials that meet these standards yet are still aesthetically appealing and
Designers need flexibility to facilitate creativity to design healthcare spaces.
Healthcare design can achieve plurality: spaces that are clinically relevant, refined
and approachable, and convey a healthcare organization’s brand values.
Healthcare environments should never feel institutional or oppressive but
instead convey an emotive quality that instills confidence of great care. A vernacular
that includes “approachable,” “refined,” and “clinically relevant” should define the
future of healthcare spaces.
Ryan Ramos is the director of industrial design at Steelcase Health & Education, a
leading provider of healthcare spaces that deliver greater connection, empathy, and
well-being to create solutions for healthcare environments.
patients and families
are consumers and
often have a choice
of health facilities,
working to transform
their spaces to be
and stylish for all
end users: doctors,
and support staff.