So, when I had time to kill (aboard the x-ray bed for a popped ankle) staring down at my lonely solo havaiana I pondered the poor design that appears to persist in medical institutions – both private and state. As a designer it seems to be the perfect place to test the functional aspects of good design – you have people stripped down to their most basic level. On average (apart from the unlucky few) we tend not to frequent these places that regularly so finding your way around – especially on crutches can be a daunting, frustrating waste of precious time. For example, a simple trip to the bathroom on crutches involved throwing my bodyweight at the door several times to try and beat the rugby-prop-strength automatic door closer then jamming the rubber-footed crutch into the door and leaping forward into the cavity before the door banged my dodgy ankle. Then i’m faced with another door that requires the same technique only now i’m operating in a space the size of an oompaloopas telephone booth. I made it but no thanks top the same institution that was there to help me. I remember watching a TED Talks with Tim Brown talking about creative thinking and play. He sites a design job they had in a hospital, so to effectively put themselves in the ‘client’s’ shoes they strapped a video camera on to the head of an unwitting employee and turned him into a patient for 24 hours. What they got was the point-of-view of a patient – staring mostly at crappy ceiling boards – a perspective that so simply put er, perspective, on the parameters. On a purely superficial level, signage alone would make a huge difference, something like Paula Scher’s 42nd Street Studio design – simple, intuitive signage with no room for confusion. It’s currently so broken it’s a designers dream job. I guess what I got from my short experience is the importance of taking enough time to consider the end user when designing interactions – it’s so easy to get caught up with what the client wants when they aren’t necessarily the intended consumer. The more involved we become with the processes and demands of a product or service, the more efficiently we can deliver results.