Designing better mental healthcare facilities

Balancing aesthetics with safety and security

Jason Brown, director of Design and Development at Knightsbridge Furniture, takes a look at some of the key considerations – including the challenge of balancing appealing aesthetics and a therapeutic, non-institutional feel with safety and security – when designing and manufacturing furniture for mental healthcare settings.

Furniture (fur¦ni|ture) – noun: ‘The movable articles that are used to make a room or building suitable for living or working in, such as tables, chairs or desks.’ The lexicon – in this case Oxford Dictionaries Online – makes ‘furniture’ sound so mundane. Yet, as with most aspects of mental health life, reality belies the apparent simplicity, and at Knightsbridge we fully embrace this. Fitting out a complex environment catering for the 24/7 needs of serviceusers, visitors, and staff, is a challenge best left to experts – although stakeholder input is also absolutely key – as those interior designers and buyers charged with the task of furnishing a hospital or other healthcare facility will testify. However, the responsibility for furnishing today’s healthcare facilities no longer lies exclusively with interior designers and purchasing managers.

Manufacturers also have an increasingly important role to pla

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