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Designing for wellbeing: Graduate Diploma Interior Design and the Royal Brompton Hospital
Graduate Diploma Interior Design students at Chelsea College of Arts recently collaborated with the Royal Brompton Hospital to propose new spatial structures that would benefit the health and wellbeing of the hospital community.
The students on the 1-year course worked closely with rb&hArts, the hospital’s arts programme, to design the structures.
Students also had the opportunity to take part in a competition to design a physio storage unit, external signage or a route map for patients and families to take on walks out of the hospital as part of their recovery.
The winners of the competition then exhibited their ideas in the hospital's café exhibition space, along with selected students who showcased a snapshot of their course design proposals, ranging from physio rehabilitation equipment, stress relief spaces to redesigning the hospital’s restaurant space.
We interviewed Graduate Diploma Interior Design 2021 graduates, Anne Martin, Morgane Sansay and Vera Tavares, who told us more about their winning design for a courtyard physio storage box, called ‘Bumbo’.
Tell us about your collaboration with the Royal Brompton Hospital.
Anne: The Royal Brompton Hospital competition was introduced by our lecturer, Emma Hunter, as an optional team project. We were given 3 briefs by rbhArts. Those willing to take part had to form groups and choose one of the 3 briefs, and then present a final project a week later to the whole rbhArts team.
Vera: The 3 briefs were:
- Designing new signposts for the hospital
- Designing a map/route leaflet around the hospital
- Designing a new shed to store paediatric physio equipment in the hospital’s courtyard.
We chose the last brief, since we felt very connected to the idea of helping children passing over the trauma of staying in a hospital, which is something they don’t understand at very young ages.
Your response to the competition brief was ‘Bumbo’. Can you tell us about the ideas behind it?
Anne: Bumbo is a storage box, and designed specifically with children as our focal point. Visits to hospitals and other health facilities can be a daunting experience for children and young people. It has been proven that mascots play a significant role with young audiences and encourage them to participate in activities and recover faster.
So instead of a simple box or shed, we decided to design an elephant mum, called Bumbo. The name is formed from the mix of Brompton and Dumbo. We wanted Bumbo to not only be the new storage, but also a new friend, a funny and attractive mascot who helps patients to recover, and helps staff with an organised, functional and practical way of storing their equipment.
Vera: Bumbo and her son have a simple and clear shape. They are nice to look at, funny for toddlers, friendly for teens and sculptural-like for the adults. They have a neutral and warm look from the outside thanks to the choice of wood, they please the eye of everyone coming to the courtyard, and they have an incredibly fun and colourful interior that can only be seen when the doors are open, like a hidden world. For materials, Bumbo and her son are built in plywood and flexiply. It is sealed with polyurethane sealer to make it waterproof and easy to wipe and clean. Both mother and son are on casters, to enable them to be moved around.
Morgan: We wanted the Brompton Hospital patients to really feel connected with Bumbo, so we proposed a collaboration with the children at the Hospital. We wanted the children to help give a name to Bumbo’s son. Before Bumbo arrived, we planned to announce her arrival with flyers, drawings and activity books with Bumbo games that we designed to trigger the children's curiosity.
What are your future plans now that you have graduated?
Anne: Thanks to the online UAL Graduate Showcase 2021, I have been scouted by the Team Lewis Foundation to exhibit 3 of my playground’s visuals at the Milbank Tower which for me is just unbelievable. I am also working on a 6-bedroom student accommodation project as an interior designer. I am still thinking about which path I really want to take, residentials or more creative design concept development, but I am confident about my future career. If there’s one thing I’ve learned with this unprecedented year is that I can do it, and even more!
Morgan: I have an exhibition with the Team Lewis Foundation in London like Anne. At the same time, I have been doing projects as a freelancer but looking for a more stable job in some studios in London and Barcelona. I would also like to create a collective with fellow designers.
Vera: Currently, I’m working in an Interior Design studio in Lisbon. However, I see myself leaving my home country and continue working in the field – maybe in Barcelona, maybe in London. After the pandemic and the fact that we were all forced to change our lives, I started to try to make fewer plans, so I think time and circumstances will lead me to the place where I should be.