Peter Andersson, Designer

Peter Andersson is a designer with many years' experience of designing healthcare and nursing furniture. He meets the needs of users and staff through inclusive design.

How do you work with inclusive design?

Inclusive design is about not excluding anyone. Everyone should be able to sit on a chair and get up out of it, regardless of their condition. Of course there should be alternatives for wheelchair users. Furniture must be inviting and easy to read. I should immediately feel that I can sit here. Once I've sat down, I must be able to sit comfortably, get help with my posture, but still be able to relax. If it's possible to adjust the chair, the handle should be easy to find and it must be easy to understand how it works. In my opinion, it's also important to include the staff. Well-designed furniture can make their work easier. If the design can help users to get in and out of the chair independently, staff can avoid heavy lifting. Flexible furniture that isn't heavy and can be moved using handles and castors, or be hung on the tables, helps when it comes to rearranging furniture and cleaning.

What does a 'healing space' mean to you?

It's a space where I can be a human being – not a patient. A space where I feel that I can be myself. And that's something I try to take into account when I'm designing furniture. The furniture should not radiate illness or weakness. Furniture should be furniture, and of course it must also have features that support and help me in my life. Designing furniture for healthcare and nursing means that I have to take into account a number of functional and ergonomic requirements. But it's very important that the furniture also has aesthetic value, that it doesn't compromise on beauty. There are horrifying examples of task chairs that look like tanks. I want my furniture to signify care and to surprise people; it can be as simple as a leather strap that holds the cushion.

How do you think healthcare and nursing environments should be furnished?

The most important thing is to look at the whole picture. If you only choose furniture for functional reasons – functional easy chairs, section seating and dining seating that doesn't match – and put it in a room, there's a risk that it will make a chaotic impression. Many elderly people are sensitive to chaotic environments. Look for coherence and choose furniture that has an affinity or matches. Personally, I think that furniture should feel fresh and new in finish and shape. I think there's a misconception that old people want to be surrounded by old things. Healthcare and nursing environments can be furnished with a combination of the old and new. Naturally, things that have a history and carry memories are important, but it's possible to create a homely environment that reflects the present and gives a pleasant sense that life is happening here and now.

"The furniture should not radiate illness or weakness."

Peter Andersson, Designer

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