A team of interior designers was hired to renovate the outdated waiting room of a hospital. To get a sense of the scope of this project, they camped out in the waiting room for two days.

Sitting in the waiting room

What they found was far from comfortable surroundings. It was like a trip to the DMV… for 2 days straight: Cold, hard seating, stale snack food from a finicky vending machine, outdated reading material and a PA system which barely worked. This firsthand experience inspired the designers to apply solutions which would address more than simple, surface level renovations.

Prescription bottles were not only unattractive, they were actually dangerous.

Medication Obfuscation

ClearRX, a breakthrough design for prescription drug packaging, was inspired by a designer’s personal experience. Deborah Adler’s grandmother Helen accidentally swallowed pills meant for Adler’s grandfather, Herman. The design of the prescription bottle had been unchanged for decades. Prescription bottles were not only unattractive, they were actually dangerous.

Adler’s design was a radical departure from a traditional prescription bottle. Its color coding makes it easy for members of a household to distinguish their individual prescriptions. The ClearRx design eliminates confusing typography. Important information is placed at the top of the bottle (instead of the pharmacy logo). Reshaping the bottle design makes reading dosage info much easier.

ClearRx officially reached “design classic” status when it was included in a MoMA exhibit. More importantly, Adler’s new design has the potential to save lives through clarity.

Recasting the cast

If you’ve ever broken a bone, you know firsthand how miserable a plaster or fiberglass cast can make you feel. They are cumbersome, smelly, itchy and don’t fit under clothing very well. If Designers Deniz Karasahin and Jake Evill have any say in the matter, plaster and fiberglass casts will be no more.

Evill’s Cortex cast is lightweight, ventilated, washable and thin enough to fit under a shirt sleeve. It is manufactured using a 3D printer with durable material that doesn’t itch or smell.

Karashin took it one step further. Using the Cortex as a base, he created the Osteoid Medical Cast. Karashin’s cast can connect with an ultrasound bone stimulator system, which massively speeds up healing times. The Osteoid cast, can increase healing times by 80% depending on the fracture type.

Takeaway

Underestimating your audience or adhering to boilerplate design formulas can result in stale design solutions. Being emotionally connected with your subject matter often brings about thoughtful design solutions which hit the mark and truly make a difference.

Photo by By Butterfly austral – Serge Ouachée (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

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