Hospitals are not known to be the most visually inspiring places, with their white-washed walls, laminated signs and leaflets set in a mishmash of typefaces, and faded blue paper curtains.
But thanks to charities like Artfelt and a host of designers and illustrators, UK-based hospitals and medical transport have been rejuvenated in recent years.
Designers such as Morag Myerscough have transformed wards in Sheffield Children’s Hospital with colourful patterns to help alleviate young patients’ stress and anxiety while they wait or undergo treatment, while illustration studio Tado transformed a fleet of ambulances with cute animals and characters with the same purpose in mind.
Now the idea of using design to make hospitals more welcoming and less frightening places has caught on. The San Carlos Hospital in Madrid has worked with children’s charity the Aladina Foundation and commissioned artist Okuda San Miguel to transform its paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) and children’s wards with vibrant graphic illustrations.
Flooring materials company Formica Group donated and installed laminate used as wall panels for the project, while San Miguel designed two 45m² murals, which were then applied to the panels.
The result is a series of geometric, brightly-coloured illustrations of animals, people, trees and objects used to line the walls of the wards, which demonstrate San Miguel’s signature style.
The new designs aim to brighten up the ICU, children’s surgery and care units for the wards’ 1,800 patients, as well as for their families and medical staff.
Lorena Diez, hospital director for the Aladina Foundation, says: “We seek to humanise hospitals, helping reduce the trauma of a young person’s stay as much as possible. This project will help improve the quality of life for children in the hospital.”
San Miguel adds: “It was exciting to work with a material I had never used before, particularly considering it implied an architectural transformation. [This] will provide a great deal of positivity to children who need it.”
According to Formica Group, the panels are “durable” for use in places such as hospitals, which have a lot of people travelling through them.
The colourful designs have now been applied to the San Carlos Hospital children’s units.