When Positivity, Simplicity and Durability Meet to Create Memorable, Inclusive Healthcare Spaces

January 3, 2023 | Abigail Gabbard | Interiors + Sources Magazine

For healthcare facilities applying Universal Design, there are many new and innovative options of wallcoverings that are as beautiful as they are utilitarian. Author Abigail Gabbard, Executive Director of the Wallcovering Association (WA), dives into how innovative wallcoverings can help achieve harmony between inclusivity and positivity for people who live, work and reside in the spaces we design. 

With a new year, we always bring a fresh approach to commercial design and our intentions for the months and years to come. With that in mind, the Wallcoverings Association (WA) and our members are exceptionally in-tune with how our work and our products can make every space better for the people who live, work and reside in the spaces we design. There are many factors to consider and balance when commercial design of healthcare and caregiving facilities are looking to accomplish this approach.

Recently, the National Institute On Aging released a study linking optimism to extended lifespans and overall well-being. Specifically, for commercial designers working within the healthcare market, evoking calming spaces with the ability to conjure up joyous memories is essential. This optimistic outlook is merely an addition to the standard, experienced professional design approach of Universal Design. As the Institute for Human-Centered Design states, equity, flexibility and simplicity are three primary principles for Universal Design (UD).

New, innovative wallcoverings can help achieve this striking harmony where inclusivity and positivity meet. Our WA member manufacturers design with UD at the forefront while bringing together bright colors in muted hues and understated patterns. The looks offer a calming and soothing effect that blends with clinical and comfortable furniture and fixtures.

For healthcare facilities applying UD that brings about beneficial emotional responses for patients, caregivers and guests, there are many new and innovative options to utilize wallcoverings that are as beautiful as they are utilitarian.

Stepping Into the Garden

Eden Wall Mural – York Wallcoverings

Image courtesy of York

As the sunlight gently filters through a forest glen, the watercolor beauty inspires–as if you’re entering a magical garden. The Eden Mural introduced by York Contract is printed on non-woven backed vinyl to provide durability and cleanability in healthcare settings. The psychology of visual space provides a canvas for mural art to create a sense of soothing and calm by incorporating nature-inspired design in an otherwise sterile environment. The relaxing and “escapism” trend continues during the post-pandemic timeframe in the healthcare setting for patients and employees in medical and dental offices and other wellness-based facilities.

This is Universal Design in its simplicity of use, whether the user is disabled or not, and universal connection to all people regardless of background as stated above, with optimism as it’s best intent and advanced technologies for health benefits built in for cleanliness behind the scenes.

Global Inspiration

Image courtesy of Momentum

With a nod to the French Riviera, the Versa Vantage III collection is a line of PVC-free wall protection products that are low VOC, phthalate-free and bleachable. The Bastia line from Versa Designed Surfaces is a stylish horizontal pattern consisting of painterly strokes and accents of metallics. A fresh and airy 12-color palette includes sublime neutrals and pops of blue and orange inspired by the Mediterranean coastline. With beautiful colors, patterns, textures and high-fidelity emboss, Vantage III creates a versatile and welcoming alternative to every healthcare facility imaginable.

Softer Standard Surfaces

Image courtesy of Wold-Gordon

Bringing well-known and understood outdoor surfaces into interior décor provides certainty and stability in healthcare spaces. The Wolf-Gordon RAMPART Resolve line of commercial wall protection includes the newest Redondo design. Following a year-long development process, Wolf-Gordon engineered its innovative, flexible wall protection line, RAMPART, to develop RAMPART Resolve, an environmentally conscious, PVC-free version with the same superior performance, unique colors and textured patterns. Honing in on the popularity of concrete and plaster effects on décor, the inspired Redondo design delivers an exquisite rendition of a timeworn wall with a fresh approach. The modern amenities of durability and cleanability for caregivers do not interfere with the ability to evoke soothing stability for patients.

Memorable Moments

Image courtesy of Len-Tex

Capturing a snapshot in time, the Freya collection by Len-Tex captures the memory of the wind rippling across the water, creating sand dunes or piling snow in drifts. The full-color palette includes 13 shades, which feature flowing movement to add a natural yet dramatic touch to any interior. In addition, Len-Tex wallcoverings provide the needed durability for healthcare interiors. Len-Tex supplies certified low VOC wallcoverings with the Aqua-Clear 3.0 water-based urethane top coat to provide color-safe stain resistance and cleanability even when using diluted bleach as a disinfectant.

Particularly for healthcare and skilled nursing facilities that support patients and guests with neurodiversity, memory care for senior living and healing spaces supporting equity is one of the most important aspects of interior design. When décor blends with its surroundings, we have the ability to create a soothing environment for all. Therefore, all commercial designers must consider how colors and patterns can positively provide soft sensory reception for everyone in your space.

About the Author: Abigail Gabbard is executive director of the Wallcoverings Association, a nonprofit trade association representing wallcoverings manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. The WA educates consumers, designers and specifiers about the beauty and use of wallcoverings. The association keeps the industry at the forefront of sustainability with specifier tools such as NSF 342, Sustainability Scorecards and Environmental Product Declarations. 

To read this article in its entirety, click here.

Written by Anne Holden