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Published: 6 Mar 2019

Healing Colour Gradients Calm & Soothe in Hospital Rooms

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The De-Escalation Room, The Junipers PICU

Colour’s profound effect on human emotion is being uncovered through spaces that exploit its psychological healing effects. Rooms in a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) have been transformed into calming and soothing environments, using ethereal pastel gradients and digital artworks.

The project is part of an initiative from Hospital Rooms, a charity that brings art into mental health hospitals to provide joy, dignity and wellbeing to patients, staff and visitors.

London-based digital artist Rose Pilkington has renovated two rooms at The Junipers PICU in Exeter in a collaboration with the charity. The de-escalation room, also referred to as the quiet room, is a space where patients are taken to be calmed in moments of crisis, and the air-lock entrance is a patient’s first encounter with the unit, sometimes accompanied by the police. 

Walls are hand-painted in gentle, two-tone colour gradients, built up layer by layer, with colour inspiration drawn from sunsets. Pale blue moves into green, pink into yellow and lilac into aqua, giving the impression of natural sunlight hitting the walls. 

A series of digital artworks are also installed on the walls, offering extra elements of dynamic colour and movement. The pieces are based on the human aura, the energy field that emits a coloured glow surrounding the body. 

These beautiful coloured atmospheres act as a form of colour therapy (or chromotherapy) in spaces where difficult situations take place. The use of certain shades was particularly important to the artist,

“I truly believe that certain colours have the power to soothe, so I hope that this room in any way might positively impact patients (and staff) in moments of stress,” said Pilkington.

Immersive and therapeutic colour experiences are becoming increasingly prevalent as designers recognise the importance of spaces that soothe stress and promote wellbeing. We expect to see more examples like this, as explored in our Look Ahead 2019: Colour & Materials.

For a similar approach to colour therapy, see Immersive Exhibition Explores Chromotherapy.

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The Air-Lock Entrance, The Junipers PICU
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