Sep 09, 2020
Healthcare facilities of today no longer bring to mind images of sterile, cold places with uncomfortable furniture. These days, hospitals and healthcare facilities are designed with the human experience top of mind. Numerous studies have been done through the years, showing the positive effects of art, color, and design on patients, their families, and their caregivers. Today’s interior designers intentionally design less stressful and intimidating spaces. They want healthcare settings to soothe and comfort people during a stressful situation. They also know these settings have to be safe and efficient for the employees working there.
Patterns play an important role in the overall design of a healthcare setting. In waiting room upholstery, carpeting, wallcovering, and hospital whiteboards, a pattern is present. Choosing the right one can be a challenge, but there are ways to make it easier.
Natural elements help patients, even in small doses. Nature reduces anxiety and connects people with the basics of life and living. Windows, natural light, and time outdoors are incredibly helpful, but not always possible. In those situations, patterns with motifs from nature can provide a sense of calm and quell anxiety. Patterns with leaves and flowers are effective, as well as designs with natural texture such as wood grain.
A landscape pattern is horizontally oriented and has a definite top and bottom. These types of designs are perfect for items such as privacy curtains or screens. Landscape patterns are fun to use in a room and can also serve as a way to bring art into a room by feeling like a mural.
A source of great anxiety for patients and visitors in a healthcare facility is finding their way around. Healthcare facilities have gotten bigger over the years. While new facilities have the benefit of being designed large right from the beginning, older ones have expanded over time, with new wings added onto older buildings. These buildings can be hard to navigate, especially for people who are under stress or whose native language is not English. Using pattern and color as a tool for wayfinding can be incredibly helpful in these situations.
Every community is different and serves a diverse population, often with thriving immigrant communities. When picking patterns and colors for a project, consider the people in the community and the cultures they represent. Are there specific colors or motifs that are considered bad or good luck? Likewise, are there particular elements that would bring joy or comfort?
Even though cute designs with stethoscopes may seem fun, they can quickly raise people’s anxiety levels. Also, people can have vivid imaginations, especially when anxious. Designs with sharp edges may bring to mind a fear of needles, or medical instruments, and strange shapes may look like a virus.
By using patterns effectively when designing a space, everyone who uses that space will be comfortable and less anxious. The ultimate goal is always a healthy and safe space that respects the vital work being done by staff and patients.