Interior and environmental designers really need to think it through. And decision makers who approve of their designs should keep them mindful of the purpose of a space. Is the design useful as well as aesthetically pleasing?
Kaiser Permanente is our medical care provider and I cannot find fault with their medical services. But they seem to forget that patients are often accompanied by family members. People who chauffeur them, assist them, wait for them. The discomfort of family members increases the patient’s anxiety. Waiting rooms aren’t just spaces where patients wait to see doctors. They’re spaces where people wait for patients who are seeing doctors.
A recent pre-dawn trip to the Sand Canyon ER in Irvine was sheer hell. While my husband slept on a gurney with the help of pain meds and a blanket, I sat in a stackable chair, freezing cold, approaching 24 hours without sleep. The visit lasted five hours. The ER waiting room didn’t offer any more comfortable furniture. This is not a small or outdated facility. It’s new. It’s state-of-the-art. It’s stark.
A subsequent trip to their new La Palma facility in Anaheim, barely open 3 months now, cemented my viewpoint that decision makers aren’t actually sitting in the spendy retro furniture they’re giving a nod. The entire facility reminded me of scenes from Atlas Shrugged, mid-20th century retro. Light cherry wood every where. Very nice. Would you want to spend an hour or two or three in one of these chairs, waiting for a family member? By the way, the bench in the picture is a scarcity at this facility. Almost all the seating has armrests. Perhaps to encourage people to lose weight.
I really needed to get some work done. A table would have been nice. I’d have settled for an electrical outlet. In fairness, KP does offer guest wifi at their Irvine facility. Acknowledgement that people have lives. But I have a big beast laptop that will only run for 2-3 hours on battery. My waiting time could be usefully spent if they had considered family members in their design.
Then there is the parking lot. How many times have we all had to walk behind parked cars, endangered by drivers backing out of spaces? At KP Anaheim, they have lots of walkways, with signs that encourage walking for good health. Great. Adjacent to the parking lot, there is a lovely winding sidewalk flanked by natural grasses. It’s separated from the parking lot by a pseudo creek bed, presumably for drainage. But you can’t get to the sidewalk from the parking lot. Why not put the “creek” on the other side of the sidewalk, between the “nature walk” and the main driveway, enable patients to walk safely to the building?
I notice these design flaws everywhere. Designers need to consider who will be using a space and how. My business concept involves making space more functional. I’ve never taken a design class. Maybe that’s a good thing. It seems living in the real world is a better teacher.