New Hospital Designs Encourage Greater Privacy, Less Flashing

The British Design Council rethinks hospital design from top to…uh…bottom.

Ben De Lisi


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
. 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
. 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
, and our other favorite, the Reclining Day Chair.

Ben De Lisi

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.