interior design can iMPACT how we feel

The idea that a patient’s environment contributes to healing isn’t new. It dates back to the late 18th century, when hospitals were designed to provide fresh air and access to nature. Unfortunately, these concepts were forgotten by the early 20th century when the rise of technology-based medicine resulted in sterile and utilitarian hospital design.

Images of the “Princess Ward” at St. George’s Hospital in London in 1914 reveal an approach to design that shows concern for order, but gives little thought to the patient experience. These dark, impersonal surroundings with their noise and lack of privacy can add to patient stress.

PHOTO: Hulton Archive — Getty

& now


Modern medical center design focuses the user’s physical and emotional needs. Colorful, well-designed, interactive interiors such as New York City’s Claire Tow Pediatric Pavilion at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (designed by Granary Associates) create a vibrant atmosphere for healing. Light-filled spaces, the right wall colors, pieces of art and some of the comforts of home can all improve patients’ spirits.

Many modern hospital designers consider the needs of kids. By having access to computers and multimedia entertainment, patients can be in communication with family, friends and school.

PHOTO: Memorial Sloan-Kettering


The Art Institute of Chicago is home to a collection of 68 tiny interiors from Europe and America from the 13th century to the 1930s. Take an online tour of the dollhouse-size rooms, or play the Thorne Mini Rooms challenge.

Discover Design is an interactive design resource by the Design Museum. Learn about a variety of materials and their impact on design.

Looking for inspiration for a color palette? Adobe's Kuler site showcases a variety of combinations!

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