WHAT DO HOSPITALS DO WITHOUT DESIGNERS?
IED Barcelona Design School is exploring new ways to integrate design into pediatric hospital settings in an aim to improve patients’ well-being. Light interventions in rooms to improve users’ experience, culinary immersion through virtual reality for patients experiencing a loss of taste, a device that helps to describe and explain pain, and a wireless system to perform electrocardiograms are just some of the projects proposed.
Students of the Undergraduate Degree in Product Design and the Undergraduate Degree in Interior Design have worked on the relationship between design and health to develop their final degree projects. Specifically, they were asked to explore and devise products or environments that foreshadow future scenarios in which healthcare takes centre stage. The project involved thinking about products, furnishings or accessories, together with spaces and/or services, with particular requirements in terms of usability, atmosphere and lighting, as well as emotional, functional and aesthetic aspects.
Focusing their attention on the needs of users of paediatric settings, the students interviewed patients, family members and in-house staff to find out about their real needs. To do this, they visited the facilities of Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Hospital Clínic, and interacted with different representatives in an aim to find those issues that required innovative and creative solutions. For over six months, the students have made various prototypes, with the help of tutors and experts, in order to accomplish their projects. They were further able to test their proposals on a range of users to verify their effectiveness and improve their designs.
The result is a range of proposals that present ideas for different installations inside the facilities in order to transform them into more human, relaxed and cosy environments, aiming to contribute to the progress of the patients through new technologies: virtual signage systems to facilitate patients’ arrival to consultations, lighting devices that capture and transform light, and gastronomic virtual reality settings that recreate a virtual culinary experience for patients who have lost their sense of taste due to their treatment.
In the field of product design, devices were proposed to help to define pain, wireless systems were developed in a bid to perform electrocardiograms in a more fun way, and more flexible and lighter antennas were used in magnetic resonance imaging on children that transforms the scan into a space adventure. The projects appeal to the imagination of patients and aim to improve their experience in such settings, since these spaces and environments can often generate feelings of rejection, fear and confusion. The students have chosen to create solutions that foster a positive attitude and a more pleasant experience, which can contribute to patients’ physical recovery.
The projects were presented to the Innovation Departments at Hospital Clínic and Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, who were both satisfied with and stimulated by the results. “What do hospitals do without designers? What do designers do without hospitals?” asked Dr. Jaume Pérez Payarols, Director of Innovation and Research at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, who specified that “the way of seeing things in hospitals in a friendly and comfortable way is a task that can only be done by designers.”
Oriol Guimerà, IED Barcelona’s Design School Development Director, highlighted the importance of creating hybrid designs: “It is no longer about devising products and spaces, but experiences and services that improve people’s well-being”. “The importance of projects such as these lies in the ability to know how to listen to all the stakeholders involved in order to improve and transform the world,” said Raffaella Perrone, Design School Managing Director at IED Barcelona.
Project: The Anatomy of Senses
Student: Tatjana Zoffel
The Anatomy of Senses is a Virtual Reality culinary experience for people who, due to chemotherapy treatments, have experienced a total or partial loss of the sense of taste. This can turn the act of eating into a traumatic experience.
The patient is immersed into VR scenarios in which colours and shapes are associated with certain flavours, so that when they consume real food the other active senses, such as touch or sight, allow them to experience the food in a different way. The project includes a hospital tray designed for the virtual world, as well as a trolley to bring the setting to life.
Student: Rasha El Assaad
Mune is an inflatable structure for pediatric patients conceived as an imaginary galaxy where children can develop their senses through specific activities. The student has designed different planets within the galaxy, represented through the structure of the dome, which each have distinct landscapes and characteristics. It can be set up anywhere, but is primarily designed for hospital environments as a fun and “healing” space for both short- and long-stay patients.
Project: Inside – Outside
Student: Martina Morejón
Inside-Outside underscores light as a generator of architectural spaces, where the space itself is transformed into a channel between the interior and exterior. Designed for patients with long-term stays in hospital settings, this project aims to improve patients’ sensation of well-being in their rooms by way of a lighting device that allows light to be captured and transformed through refraction, reflection and decomposition. Further, it allows a dialogue to be created among children in different rooms with the objective of bringing them together and fostering a feeling of company during their stay.
Student: Anastasiia Kuliabina
EMA allows an electrocardiogram (ECG) test to be performed wirelessly by replacing the cables with sensors that are synchronized with each other, which send the readings to a receiver located in the machine. The objective of the project is to adapt the technology to the user, facilitating the work of the medical professional and making the test more bearable for the pediatric patient.
Student: Renata Colmenero
Ouchy is a tool that helps children describe pain through physical interaction, with the intention of improving communication with medical personnel. It is designed to be used in both outpatient consultations and hospitalization settings. Questions such as ‘Where does it hurt? How intense is the pain? How often do you get the pain? When did it start? What kind of pain is it?’ can be responded to using the analogue system, allowing these questions to be answered and the improvement or deterioration of the patient to be observed. In addition, it converts the results into a fact sheet that the doctor can use to analyze the symptoms.
Student: Guillermo Beltrán
Hood is proposed as an alternative to the rigid antennas currently used in magnetic resonance examinations (MRI scans). Designed to make pediatric patients’ experience less traumatic, this system adapts to the body, taking advantage of the latest technology to create more flexible and lighter antennas. It also includes a lighting system that indicates which part is active and creates the illusion of the patient wearing a special suit.