Before designing a new pediatric waiting room for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (London), designers at Boex, an interior and product design firm based in Cornwall, England, asked to shadow the hospital staff for 24 hours to better understand the workings of the 1,033-square-foot space.

What they found were metal chairs in long rows that didn’t accommodate parents holding or soothing young children; aisles cluttered with strollers and other gear parents typically bring with them; no clear separation of sick and well children; and few positive distraction features to entertain waiting patients.

“The staff made a real effort to entertain the children, including blowing bubbles,” says Sam Boex, creative director at Boex.

Armed with this insight on what was and wasn’t working in the waiting room, the team created a list of the goals and design solutions for the project, including breaking up the space into three distinct zones for infectious and non-infectious patients and babies.

The project, which is expected to open in fall 2016, is also designed with more flexible seating options and a bright material and color palette. “We used the idea of creating forms and contours to evoke a natural landscape of coves and dells, using tactile timber for the majority of the seating,” Boex says.

Seating bays and colorful visual cues, including floor and wall graphics and LED wall washes, help identify each of the zones, which are also separated by clear screens to maintain staff sightlines within the long, narrow space.

Custom-designed wood furniture is fixed to walls or bases and is coated with an antimicrobial lacquer, while some lightweight seating and play pieces are made of 100 percent sealed firm foam that can be made into any shape or color.

The firm also worked closely with the hospital’s charity, CW+, which raised funds to commission custom audio, visual, and digital installations for the waiting room, including a series of video animal portraits by Bridge Co. and custom wallcoverings by artist Maddy Sargent.

“The overall effect will be a light, nature-inspired and child-centered waiting area,” Boex says.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at