Healthcare Furniture Has Come Far

Posted on June 14, 2011


Design is lucky to be so tightly connected to developments in materials science because materials research and development is receiving a lot of emphasis by scientists. This has translated well to products in the design and construction market. I am amazed at the improvement in healthcare furnishings in the past ten to fifteen years.

Back in the day chairs that took heavy abuse, such as those in an emergency department waiting area, were a single color, of a synthetic material like stiff pleather, and not ergonomic—all in the service of ease of cleaning. This meant chairs were unattractive and uncomfortable.

Now, hospitals can choose from multiple manufacturers that produce well-designed, comfortable, durable, cleanable, modular furniture for the healthcare environment. The highly-recommended and affordable options now include:

  • Removable components (like seat bottoms), for easy cleaning
  • Modular designs, for easy repair, reconfiguring, refinishing, or replacement
  • Ergonomic designs (including varied widths), for comfort
  • Smooth, continuous surfaces without folds, creases or cracks, to reduce germ and bacteria catchment
  • Fluid-repellant fabrics and / or antimicrobial finishes, to thwart staining and enhance sanitation
  • Durable, cleanable surfaces, to provide for repeated exposure to harsh cleaning agents and methods
  • Mobile units (with casters or feet), for added flexibility and to ease cleaning
  • FSC-certified wood, for a small ecological footprint and LEED, if appropriate

Keep in mind these are only some of the more widely-available and most used design ideas for healthcare furniture. The intended use and cleaning patterns for the furniture should be the major factors in determing what design options make the most sense. So many options exist that compromise on a look or specific design aspect is not necessary, especially in fabric and color.  Even custom work is not out of the question these days.  Hold out and keep searching, or asking, for what you want.

Posted in: Interior Design