Hygge Healthcare

Dissertation topic.

For the final year of my BA Furniture degree I chose to focus my written personal project on healthcare waiting environments.

I chose this area to research as I believe currently healthcare waiting rooms feel clinical, uninviting and almost scary for most people. This is a problem. And needs to be rectified. My solution: introducing a sense of ‘hygge’ to these waiting rooms to improve the users experience and alleviate some of the negative emotions they could be feeling.


In my essay I visited two healthcare centres: a privately funded charity organisation and my local NHS hospital. Both centres offer free services and advice to people from all backgrounds. Yet visually are complete polar opposites.

‘Hygge’, danish concept, is commonly translated to English as ‘cosy’ but the meaning is far more than just cosy. A sense of warmth and privacy are two aspects I particularly focused on when looking at hygge.

I believe that the Maggie’s Centre is a prime example of what the National Health Service should strive to look like. With a few simple changes I think that waiting rooms could provide patients privacy and reassurance. I have produced a set of guidelines for staff in such healthcare spaces, to help them choose their furniture in a more informed way.

Healthcare Hygge Guide

Drawing from the conclusions in my essay I have devised three concept to direct my design and make project.

DOMESTIC. Many corporate organisations have adopted a more domestic aesthetic in recent years, however most NHS waiting rooms have not. A domestic feeling could help calm a patient and help them to forget they are in a clinical environment. Additionally, the item of furniture could mimic ‘home comforts’ that make people feel relaxed and at ease in their own homes, by creating a warm and inviting space.

MOVEMENT. The furniture needs to work for the needs of the user. Physically, the furniture will need to be designed and manufactured in a way that will allow users to easily move the furniture. The furniture should also encourage the users to move and interact with it. Mentally, the furniture could subtly invoke emotions.

PRIVACY. People are in healthcare environments for a range of reasons. However, more often than not people feel distressed, upset, worried, anxious - the list goes on! Having an element of privacy in a waiting room could relieve an element of these negative emotions.