Trends in Healthcare Furniture: Comfortable, Durable, Tech-Friendly
Healthcare furniture fulfills a special niche: on one hand, it must be durable and comfortable. It must also be modern, fresh and inviting. Like any other industry, healthcare is constantly growing and transforming through technology and patient needs, and thus, so has healthcare furniture and design.
Ashley Mehaffey, designer for Officenvironments, has seen firsthand a revolution in healthcare furniture trends. She says that healthcare spaces are no longer clinical and sterile, but instead, an inviting, flexible space that provides patients and family a “lounge” experience, focused on providing a comfortable experience for everyone.
We’ve compiled some notable trends Ashley has seen in healthcare furniture, ranging from durability of upholstery to a shift in aesthetic design.
Durability and Cleanability
Durability is absolutely crucial for healthcare furniture: designers are adopting vinyl and polyurethane materials (away from “fabrics,” or woven upholsteries) to withstand the harsh, industrial cleaners used to reduce infection and disease. Ashley says that infection control has been a catalyst in recent years for healthcare furniture evolution.
Additionally, furniture is shifting towards sturdier, metal frames and solid surfaces. Conversely, furniture trends are moving away from exposed wood frames, arm caps and other furniture pieces that could be damaged or pose potential risk to patients and families.
Healthcare furniture must meet the demands of a constantly changing environment. Unlike other industries, healthcare furniture is used at all hours, so it must not only be comfortable, but durable to anyone of any size.
Healthcare has seen a tremendous growth of technology, and patients can access their healthcare in exciting, new ways. Nurse stations are more open and collaborative and aren’t relegated to a desk to perform their duties. Healthcare spaces are growing to accommodate Teladoc, a telehealth company that uses modern video and telephone calls to provide on-demand healthcare, as well as other forms of telecommunication. Furniture has also evolved to include USB/power outlets to charge phones and other devices.
As medical records become increasingly cloud-based, there is less need for storage in healthcare spaces and facilities.
According to Healthcare Design Magazine, designers are also pulling from regional influences and the surrounding environment for healthcare furniture and aesthetics. As this article points out, while healthcare interiors remain minimalized with little visual clutter, there is a growing trend of adopting patterns, colors and graphics for public spaces, including lobbies, corridors and other third spaces.
Use of bold, striking color can come with benefits, as the article points out. Color can create a positive distraction and promote activity and wayfinding. However, color should be carefully considered as it can cause negative associations or affect the appearance of a patient’s skin tone, which can cause a misdiagnosis in a patient’s condition.
Healthcare aesthetics and trends are also pulling inspiration from nature, which has shown to have healing effects in a healthcare setting. However, trends are using these influences in a more progressive way -- less literal, more abstract.
Finally, the article states, that tastes and trends can shift rapidly, so it’s imperative to adopt flexible, inexpensive and easily swapped out furniture upholstery or paint finishes.
The Future for Healthcare Furniture
Healthcare facilities are becoming more competitive and are constantly innovating new ways to provide a health-focused, modern space, where patients and clients feel comfortable and uplifted. As facilities differentiate themselves in the competitive healthcare landscape, more focus has been given to design-forward, technology-friendly spaces that are flexible and durable in any situation.
Overall, Ashley says, healthcare furniture must be durable, cleanable and comfortable.