Bland, sterile-looking healthcare facilities are a thing of the past. Aesthetics now encompass a broad range of healing elements including energetic color-schemes and nature-based hues that encourage comfort. But beyond the basics of color is a new world of functionality.
Contract-grade furniture is designed and built by specialized manufacturers whose construction methods and materials produce a higher-quality piece of furniture that stands up to heavy use.
Additionally, fabrics for contract environments are tested to standards that are not applicable in residential design.
- Fabric finishes are far more durable than a traditional Scotch-Guard surface treatment and many fabric finishes can handle urine and body fluids without penetrating vulnerable foam and frame components of seating pieces. All contact furniture is tested to comply with commercial fire codes CAL 117 and most can be tested to pass CAL 133.
- Contract furniture designs can easily adapt dimensions of seating pieces to accommodate bariatric and limited mobility needs. Reinforced and metal frames can allow up to 800 lb. per seating surface. Shorter seat depths and higher arm heights on sofas, loveseats and chairs enables mobility by making the physics of taking a person from a seated position to a standing position an easier transition.
- Many health care facilities are subject to inspection and accreditation standards so making sure that all design elements including furniture and fixtures comply is essential.
- Patient and staff safety is always a primary concern. Understanding the specific needs of the patient population, staff and visitors is crucial since design needs may include things like managing self-harm risk, preventing assemblies that can be used as weapons, eliminating sharp edges, minimizing tripping or falling risks and optimizing independence are topics that many designers have not had to take into consideration on non-contract projects.
Healthcare design is an exciting and rewarding field promising substantial growth for experienced interior designers. Patient expectations have encouraged interior design that is more exciting then the monochrome, sterile interiors of 20 or 30 years ago.