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Collaborating with Spectrum Health Innovations – Part 2

Posted March 29, 2016 in Industrial DesignInterior DesignPhotography

In this blog series, students in the Photography program and student writers from the Writing Center explore the ongoing collaboration between Spectrum Health Innovations and students in the Interior Design and Industrial Design Programs.

Part Two – Preliminary Designs: A First Look

Written by Ashley Newton, Interior Design student
Photography by Ian Pokriefka, Photography student

Last semester, recent Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) graduates Amanda Loehle (’15, Interior Design) and Justin Beitzel (’15, Industrial Design) and current Industrial Design student Xiaoyang Guo began a project collaborating with Spectrum Health Innovations (SHI). Part One of this series introduces their first steps in developing solutions to mobility concerns in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) through meeting with Spectrum Health doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Read Part One here.

Loehle, Beitzel, Guo, and Associate Professors Lee Davis (Interior Design) and Jon Moroney (Industrial Design) concluded the initial brainstorming session with a plan to immediately consider the information collected and begin to design both space solutions for the EMU and the strategy for their next brainstorming session.

Insights gained at that first session encouraged the development various ideas, which the students then presented at KCAD in December, with contributing parties from Spectrum Health, numerous SHI staff members, and KCAD staff and faculty in attendance.

collaborationKCAD students, faculty, staff and Spectrum Health employees came together at KCAD, where the students presented their ideas (credit: Ian Pokriefka)

While the students’ ideas have real potential to influence the design of spaces and equipment in the EMU in the future, the abstract element thus far was particularly exciting for Beitzel. "One of the best parts of this project was that we were able to keep our designs fairly conceptual,” he says. “ It was more about creating a vision for the future experience. I realized how much I enjoy that portion of the design process."

But as far as SHI staff and Spectrum Health doctors are concerned, practical, viable solutions to the mobility issue in the EMU could very well come from this collaboration. At this concept review students were faced with the complicated task of focusing in on patient safety and their home-centered care in the EMU setting. The challenge is to achieve balance between an atmosphere of hospital and home, and to reduce patients' stress while maximizing their comfort.

SHI Clinical Innovations Specialist Kris Emery remarked that, in this way, the rooms need to emphasize the “human as the center of focus,” rather than the strict roles of patients and healthcare practitioners.

Accommodating the needs of both EMU patients and hospital clinicians is, however, a crucial part of the design program. To this end, much focus has been paid to the design of an EMU-specific bed where, statistically, patients most often seize, as it is where they spend the most time. Ideally, such a bed would have 360-degree staff access at work surface height, feature patient-operated adjustability and control, be able to become seated, as well as provide stability and, in the case of confusion or aggression, restraining devices. However, based on the design of the rest of the room, the students can encourage new ideas concerning the functionality of the space. If patients are to occupy their time elsewhere within an EMU, the operability of a current hospital bed is no longer necessary.

students presenting their concepts(right to left) recent graduate Justin Beitzel, student Xiaoyang Guo, and recent graduate Amanda Loehle (credit: Ian Pokriefka)

Providing this opportunity for mobility through the implementation of padded floors, curved corners and edges, and soft lounge and guest seating were among the students’ general suggestions. However, they needed more insight into whether or not mobile carts or ceiling-mounted technology used to house hospital equipment would better serve the various users’ needs. The challenge of designing this space given how much its use may change, particularly in regard to the open-endedness of the bed, provided the students an opportunity for total innovation. While a liberating prospect, this can also be intimidating. 

The students also sought comments on overarching details such as finish materials and color palettes. Feedback on the color palette indicated a preference for healing, calming, and nature-inspired greens and neutrals over a more modern concept incorporating bold colors and patterns, which were suggested to stimulate brain activity.

This January marked the start of a semester-long project with Davis to explore further options with regards to the interior design aspects of this project.

Everyone is excited to see what this semester holds and we hope to give you a sneak peak of the potential future room soon – stay tuned!

For more information on the Interior Design and Industrial Design programs offered at KCAD, visit kcad.edu/programs.

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