Fluorescent lights and awkward waiting rooms. Worried faces and a medicinal smell that you can’t quite put your finger on. More often than not, these are the thoughts that hospitals bring to mind. Even in the best of them, it’s hard to feel comfortable. A hospital stay can be especially intimidating for children. In an effort to change this once and for all, The Royal London Children’s Hospital have turned to commissioning artists to transform their wards and hallways.

We’re not just talking about a new coat of paint here. The Royal London Children’s Hospital is one of the leading children’s hospitals in the U.K. and cares for over 40,000 children and young people each year. Over the past two years, they have been working with Vital Arts, the arts organisation for Barts Health NHS Trust, to reimagine and redesign the hospital environment into a more positive, fun and kid-friendly place.

From hospital to hospitable

Most recently, 15 award winning international artists collaborated to liven up the hospital’s five children’s wards.

Artist Morag Myerscough took on the Trauma and Gastroenterology ward, embellishing it with her signature style of hand-painted words and distinctive patterns. Toy designers Miller Goodman brought the Respiratory ward to life using colorful, modular pieces of vinyl and wood.

Imaginary Menagerie, Miller Goodman.

Painted Landscapes, Donna Wilson.

Textile designer Donna Wilson took inspiration from nature; painting the walls of the Haematology ward with snow-capped mountains and rolling hills of blue and green. She explains why this project has been a rewarding experience, “One of the most important things for me was to make the hospital not feel like a hospital. I wanted the patients, parents and nurses all to feel relaxed, happy and stimulated by the environment that surrounds them and by using design you can lift the mood and well-being of the people there.”

Redesigning healthcare

Making people happy as well as healthy – what a great thing for design to do. We love these kinds of projects for shaking up not just what healthcare can look like but what it can mean. Luckily, this issue is gaining traction everywhere, including here in the Netherlands. If you are in Amsterdam and free this March the 6th, book yourself a spot at the Hacking Healthcare event at the Pakhuis de Zwijger. Hosted by the University of Amsterdam and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Hacking Healthcare will bring together future artists and medical scientists to bridge a connection between the creative industry and care innovation. More information here: www.dezwijger.nl

Top image: wall design by Morag Myerscough