The Royal London Hospital Children's Ward commission

Ella Doran was commissioned by Vital Arts to design the curtains for the Royal London Children’s wards. She worked with young patients, staff and parents to create her bespoke designs to transform the children’s wards and bedrooms for the new Royal London Hospital (RLH) which opened in March 2012.   In this pioneering commission, Vital Arts and Ella Doran worked closely with NHS procurement, to create a series of designs which challenge conventions of interior design for hospital wards. Ella’s unique sensibility, which finds magic and play in the everyday world, has turned institutional spaces into environments full of colour and intrigue, providing positive distraction for the young patients coping with a difficult situation.

Previously, curtains found on NHS wards would be pulled around beds to reveal the reverse of a textile design and a hem. Now with Ella’s designs in place, privacy curtains at RLH give patients a playful panoramic view of the Thames in Central London with hot air balloons and kites. The reverse of the curtains reveal contrasting colours that complement the hospital furniture. Bedside cabinets that were once drab and uniform are now covered with images of boats, origami planes and clouds. Even over-bed tray tables offer alternative views into a lush London garden. 

Ella’s commission is part of a wider art strategy led by pioneering arts and health organisation Vital Arts, which puts art and design at the heart of improving the patient environment for Barts and The London NHS Trust. Ella’s designs bring the outside in with inspiring urban narratives, fresh air, water and greenery which medical research shows assists in the recovery process. Nursing staff and play specialists working with children at the Royal London have said how vital colourful, welcoming and intriguing environments are to patient care.   

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