Martin Linder, San Francisco State University associate professor of design and industry, recently won a Nightingale Award for his innovative Florabella lounge chair, which has special features that curb hospital-borne illnesses.
How did this project start? We were asked to come in and take a look at the waiting-room environment of different medical facilities. We went into UCSF, Kaiser and some other Bay Area health care facilities. We interviewed people that worked in the facilities and talked to the people who sat in the chairs. After about seven months, we started to identify the problems.
What did you find? In these environments, there are a lot of cracks where dirt and grime get in there. And the furniture not only breaks down over time, but it’s a health risk as well. Also, the chairs were very stiff and people would be slouching and sleeping, but they wouldn’t be comfortable. We also wanted the chair to help the patients alleviate the stress of going to the hospital, so we designed a chair that sort of hugs the patient.
How does the “floating design” work? The floating design — the seat’s not really connected to the arms — allowed for dirt and debris to drop to the floor instead of collecting in the creases of the chair.
How are budget cuts at SFSU affecting your department? It’s making a major difference in every department. There are no lecturers anymore, so the professors are teaching all the required classes now.