More than ‘Art’
Art has taken on many forms and functions in healthcare design. When used effectively, art has a profound potential to change how patients, visitors, and staff perceive, interpret, and react to the spaces around them.
We already know through evidence-based design studies that art can have a positive impact on patient outcomes. Empirical data shows that, physiologically, patients respond positively to specific types of art. That data has informed the design of many recent projects.
What evidence-based principles do not (yet) tell us is that art can do more for a healing space than just reduce stress.
Before you read further, stop and ask yourself, “What is art?” Defining the word is an inherently elusive task due to the subjective nature of art. Look “art” up in the dictionary and you will find something to the effect that art is “the quality, production, or expression of what is, according to aesthetic principles, beautiful, appealing or of more than ordinary significance.” (Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition). By definition, art can be more than just eye candy.
In today’s healthcare environments, art can be much more than merely a “positive distraction” in a complex atmosphere. It can help engage and garner support from the local community, enhance our understanding and interaction with a space, and help us process life-changing events.