The London-based American fashion designer Ben De Lisi can usually be found creating jersey knits for Debenham’s or red-carpet looks for Kate Winslet. But a recent joint commission by Britain’s Department of Health and Design Council had the Long Island–born Pratt grad turning his eye to a rather neglected area of style: the hospital gown. As part of the Design for Patient Dignity program, which asked six teams of designers as well as health-care specialists from London’s Royal College of Art to rethink aspects of the hospital experience to allow for greater privacy, De Lisi came up with the Universal Gown. Rather than opening at the back and risking exposed bums at every turn, De Lisi's gown fastens via small snaps lining the seams and sleeves, so that it can open for doctor and nurse access no matter how the patient is positioned.
Having a fashion designer tackle the drafty, unflattering garment was actually a genius idea. Though some of the details in the video below—like an internal cord that allows for cinching at the waist and a choice of crew- or v-neck—seem superfluous, they are real solutions towards easing the discomfort and embarrassment of hospital patients, which is the main goal of the project. Though we can't vouch for the ameliorative properties of the matching shoulder bag De Lisi has created in shirting fabric.
Other designs that were unveiled include a prefab bathroom that can be stacked externally up and down the building or slotted into nearly any corner of a hospital ward, a concertina screening system, and our other favorite, the Reclining Day Chair.
The hybrid wheelchair and bed was proposed by the London consultancy PearsonLloyd, whose previous work in airplane interiors—another nausea-inducing environment—clearly informed the design. It's hoped the proposed items could hit hospitals as early as 2011. Click here for a complete list of designs.