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Parkinson, C., 2013.

The Interior, Design and Health

Output Type:Presentation
Presented at:The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing
Publication:Published as a book chapter, Towards Sentience in The Handbook of Interior Design, July 2013
Venue:National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Publisher:Berg Publishers, London
Dates:November 2011
Pagination:6000 words

A preparatory paper to test ideas for a book chapter.

Science and Art have long been held up as the twin pillars of civilized society, and increased awareness of the impact of design on health and well-being is evidenced by diverse collaborations. Against a backdrop of conspicuous consumption and global financial downturn, this paper will explore the relationship between design and our aspiration for societal well-being, taking into account how we live our lives, and the manner in which we die.

If you are given the diagnosis of cancer or dementia, the likelihood that this news is given to you in a clinical environment is high, as is that it will be given to you by a highly trained clinician. That you’d be concerned either for the design of the environment or the integration of the arts into this space, would in all probability, be an irrelevance to you. Given a diagnosis of any serious disease, we cling to the professionalism and speed of a responsive heath system that will act in our best interest and provide treatment that is well-considered and effective. In fact, considering design and the arts seems ridiculous in the face of illness and are own mortality. Yet, there is a growing awareness amongst clinicians that in the face of illness and dying; that the humanities offer medicine something other than scientific reductionism.

This paper will focus on the seemingly tenuous relationship between design and health and assert that its potential impact on future patients is far reaching.

I will use the motif of the patient journey as useful place to begin, because like it or not, we are all patients (increasingly consumers) of health services at some point in our lives, and for those of us in robust health, the likelihood of our final moments of life taking place inside a hospital intensive care unit, (ICU) is far more probable than us gently slipping away in the comfort of our own bed, surrounded by the ones we love.

It is my assertion, that in considering all aspects of health and well-being, from the clinical setting to the community we live in; we must consider the extremes of the human condition, to better understand how to affect long-term cultural change in the way we plan, deliver and value our public health.