J ohn Nichol has been with the Guernsey team for 35 years. After all that time he’s a veritable furniture encyclopedia, so after a trip to this year’s NeoCon, the furniture and design industry’s biggest conference, we sat down to pick his brain about a few new healthcare facilities design trends. John’s a big, determined guy, carrying the layered sort of confidence that can only come from years of studying his craft. For such a big, boisterous guy, what he had to say about healthcare surprised us.

  • Let’s talk about healthcare.

    What kind of unique challenges do you encounter in healthcare jobs that you don’t really encounter anywhere else?

    “Well, you – yeah, you know this is a work environment. [Indicates his office] So you know work environments. You know what they need, how they need to flow, what’ll work in there… Healthcare is entirely different. It’s not just the patients, it’s not just the staff, you’ve got families involved, so you’ve got a blended mixture there of functionality – it’s gotta be comfortable, it’s gotta be aesthetically pleasing, it’s gotta make people feel comfortable when they come in to sit down.”
  • Simply put

    It’s a whole other level of complexity. There’s emotion there.

    “Yeah. So there becomes a real, you know, design element because you want to pick the right fabrics. Something that’s pretty, something that makes people feel at ease.”
  • With that in mind

    Do you find that designing for healthcare spaces is more emotional than designing for other spaces?

    “Yeah, yeah it is, because they want to put a real human touch on it. You know, it’s not about what you like, it’s how will everybody view this. Will they feel comfortable? Will they feel – is it an inviting environment, you know, is it gonna feel like coming into someone’s home and sitting there? And when you get into healthcare that — that’s huge. It can’t be so sterile and so functional that it loses its humanity.”

There’s a lot to healthcare residential and office space planning

  • antimicrobial fabrics
  • copper content
  • easy-clean designs

but the real heart of healthcare design is just that, heart. You’re designing an emotional place and you cannot do that without an emotional investment on your part.