Let's be real. When you're designing the interior of a healthcare facility, you're designing a space nobody really wants to be in. People are going to be bored, anxious, and possibly in pain. But the art you choose for this space doesn't need to be merely inoffensive, it can enliven the space and the people in it.
It may come as a surprise that there is no universal emotional response to any specific colors. Associations with color are more cultural and particular to an individual rather than a consistent trigger. While jarring, stressful compositions (think sharp angles and high contrast) are wise to avoid, don't be afraid to introduce some saturated hues into a healthcare space.
Want the vividness of red with a little less intesnity? Try a subtle variation of the hue, such as these works by Laura Gunn (left) and Eva Magill-Oliver (right) that use refreshing coral tones.
It may be instinct to choose neutral colors for a healthcare facility, but while sterility is certainly a good look in the operating room, more contemporary waiting areas are being designed as warm, communal living rooms. A bright, optimistic color palette in waiting areas can create a more comforting space for the people inhabiting it.
It's common knowledge that exposure to nature is good for you, and there's data to back it up. Studies have shown that images of natural landscapes lowered the amount of anxiety medication facilities needed to dispense. That's a quantifiable cut in costs in addition to improved wellness. These studies have shown that the closer to the real thing you can get, the better the results, meaning realistic images of nature can have a very real effect on patients' health.
"Clouds Above the Beach" by Marie Meyer incorporates both natural imagery and vibrant colors.
A wallcovering can be more immersive than traditionally hung art, but use a light touch. A single statement wall with a calming image of nature can seamlessly intigrate natural beauty and its health benefits into a space.
The way we discuss our health has changed in recent years to a more holistic, intimate concept, and that change is affecting how we design our healthcare facilities. Keep in mind the significance of visitors' mental and emotional states when designing these spaces. Art can play an active role in healing.