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News archive - July 2019

Wardrobe design is given an overhaul

Mental health furniture has come under the spotlight in recent years as the trend for more-homely, hotel-like patient environments gathers pace.

And nowhere is this more evident than in service user bedrooms, where everything from beds to storage solutions and seating has undergone a major overhaul.

Modern wardrobes, for example, are now a far cry from those seen in psychiatric units even two or three years ago.

Nature calls

Gerard Baxter of Workspace explains: “Robustness and fit-for-purpose fitted wardrobe solutions that are ligature proof and safe continue to be widely specified, but we are also seeing some additional drivers.

“For example, there is a move towards the use of more-natural materials, for example plywood, which is both hardwearing an in vogue with interior designers.

“It’s about finding that balance between having a domestic feel, but not compromising on the quality of the furniture.”

Workspace recently carried out an installation at a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) facility in Birmingham, where the trust wanted wardrobes which were robust, but introduced colour into the rooms by way of material and texture, resulting in the creation of a bespoke compact-grade laminate with a woodgrain finish.

These changes are also being seen by other manufacturers.

A healing environment

A spokesman for Renray Healthcare told hdm: “We are seeing calls for a lot more vinyl wraps and wood-like materials that are hardwearing and robust, but that look more homely. They also need to be very easy to clean in order to meet infection control guidelines.

“In addition, we are seeing a demand for more colour. Coloured drawers, for example, as it is recognised that colour can be healing.”

With this trend in mind, Teal Furniture’s modular wardrobes can be specified with coloured cubes which fit into the shelves.

Nigel Lester, business development manager, explains: “There is a big shift away from dark colours to lighter, wood-effect materials that promote a much-more healing environment. Where darker colours are used, they are contrasted with light shades.”

Wardrobe designers are also being driven by a move towards more open-style products.

“We are seeing demand for doorless wardrobes, with less hanging and more shelf storage,” said Lester.

“In fact, in some cases, specifiers do not want any hanging space at all.

“But, when designing these solutions, shelves need to be shallow in depth so that service users cannot hide things at the back, and wardrobes need to have sloping tops to stop people from climbing on them.”

Workspace worked with one client to introduce secure storage within the wardrobe space, providing a section above the usable wardrobe space as a lockable, staff-only area.

George Nutall, managing director of Poppi Contract Furniture, adds: “There’s a definite trend now in mental health units for open-fronted wardrobes in more-modern finishes.

“Trusts are moving away from the more-common finishes like beeches and oaks and we are seeing ashes and greys and some brighter colours which are enabling people to personalise spaces.”

Future design

Baxter concludes: “In the future I expect that wardrobe designs will continue to evolve, led by evidence-based guidance.

“However, it would be good to see more from the Department of Health as, across its vast estate there must be recurring themes that can help to drive product development.

“There will also be further developments in materials and more offsite manufacturing which, in turn, could lead to standardisation of products as far as this is possible.

“In addition, integration of IT, Bluetooth and interactive screens has already begun and will no doubt continue to impact on future design.”

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