Elderly man in a wheelchair, in hospital

Designed to CARE: Putting People Back into A+D

As the health sector across Asia Pacific undergoes new challenges, we look to our A+D community to design solutions for tomorrow. Zenith Interiors have done just that!

The design industry – and in particular, its media professionals – practice quite a number of bad habits. In this, I am admittedly the last to “j’accuse”  … those in glasshouses, et cetera. But, I will say this. Too often, when we speak about design in the healthcare sector, we limit ourselves to nit-picking building codes and standards assessments. We speak (at length!) about hypotheticals – and yet, surprising little about post-occupancy. And, it never ceases to shock me particularly within this space, but some of us will discriminate according to design frameworks, forgetting that disease knows not how to discriminate.

I am happy to report (and in this case not whinge about legislation and certifications) that there is a revolution underway. Having finally embraced the unimpeachable virtues of natural light for the capacity to heal, we’re now looking in absolutely any space within our healthcare facilities – the politics of access in car parks, the tonal palette of lobbies and service walkways – to optimise the quest of a healthier furniture through intelligent and thoughtful design. Design, that is, to heal, to comfort and to delight.

Wellano, healthcare project
Wellano by Brunner

Earlier this month, Zenith Interiors exhibited their latest collection of purpose-driven designs for the health and aged-care sectors, Zenith CARE, at Australian Healthcare Week. Covering a staggeringly vast international suite of designers and studios, the collection stands as a leading example of evidence-based design. Each element is meticulously researched, tested, standards-approved, and considered from the end-patient’s and end-practitioner’s needs, limitations, recovery stages and safety.

In what undeniably represents a holistic solutions-driven approach to designing for this critical sector, the collection also marks two distinct milestones for A+D in this region. For a brand that is sixty-one years young, this new chapter speaks to Zenith’s ongoing commitment to rethinking our design traditions and behaviours in alignment with rapid social, cultural and technological change. But, secondly, through Zenith CARE it is clear that Zenith Interiors is not simply trying to just change design features for health facilities – they’re trying to change the way we think about design. They’re re-writing design’s inherent logic.

Team Zenith, that is, is pushing us further to achieve a cultural shift for A+D. With Zenith CARE, the A+D community is being asked to consider new approaches to accountability for positive outcomes on the human condition. This is design that is actively participating in a direct socio-political forum. As our healthcare facilities and practitioners are dealing with a degree of problems, capacities and limited resources – heretofore unseen – our A+D community has begun to position our collective creative and visionary potential to lobby organisational ‘best practice’. No longer can design in the healthcare industry be a secondary or luxury addition to the service of providing health. No longer, that is, can the attainment of ‘health’ be divorced from the curative benefits of the material space within which that venture is performed.

Wellano, healthcare project
Wellano by Brunner

Leading by Example: Zenith Interiors and Designing Tomorrow

As ‘part’ of an extensive product and brand offering under the Zenith umbrella, Zenith CARE reminds us that the pursuit of design (not to mention the pursuit of health as well) labours too frequently under adverse conditions – but it needn’t. As the ‘sum’ of this same extensive offering, Zenith CARE embodies a history of innovation, thought-leadership and risk-taking – an entire world-history of design thinking AS humanitarianism. Design through the Zenith lens is a path to a healthier tomorrow. A path to growth.

Last year I reported on Zenith Interiors’ growth across the Pacific – it is one of many stories that testify to the ongoing support of such brands for our emerging design talent. For the inaugural year of the INDE.Awards, Zenith Interiors have sought to nurture and support these standards of innovation, bravery, intelligence and thought-leadership across the A+D community of Asia Pacific. Their 61-year history highlights that our region’s creative potential is – until recently – a relatively untapped goldmine of radical paradigm shifts in design thinking, teaching and practicing.

Partnering with the INDE.Awards while simultaneously launching Zenith CARE might seem like fortuitous happenstance – but the reality is so much more significant. Both the INDE.Awards and Team Zenith understand that the human exists at the heart of our collective pursuit of capital-D Design. And, both the INDE.Awards and Team Zenith seek to celebrate environments that bring people together, that help us share, collaborate, learn and improve.  Through an impressive pan-regional presence throughout Asia Pacific, a hands-on approach to manufacture, research and development, and project management, Zenith offers us all access to an irreproachable possibility for Design: spaces that embrace technology, that can be confident in the provision of solace against any difficulty we might face tomorrow. 

By David Congram

Doctors standing in hospital lobby

Doctor Doctor…Give Me the News.

An in-depth look at what A+D has learned from medical history and the relationship between people and the spaces they occupy.

A simple question: should A+D have a check-up? 

It sounds facetious, but this question isn’t too ridiculously outlandish after all. You see, our creative practitioners across A+D are beginning to look further afield, to equally advanced and tech-embracing practitioners in unrelated sectors. Among these, the medical field in particular is proving to be eye-opening. And it all started more than 50 years ago.

1960s-1980s : Revolutionising the Medical World 

In the late 1960s Alvan Feinstein – professor at the Yale University School of Medicine – published Clinical Judgment. The medical world was never the same again.

Up to that point, the practice of medicine was heavily based on the amorphous concept of ‘clinical reasoning’ – a highly biased and surprisingly unempirical process that lead to physicians exercising decision making without checks or adequate control. Feinstein’s publication brought intense scrutiny levelled at medical decision making, increasing the awareness of weaknesses in what was considered ‘standard best practice’ across the full spectrum of the healthcare industry.

In brief, Feinstein’s approach attempted to anchor policies and procedures not to the current practices or beliefs held by experts, but to (investment in) medical experimentation and the application of those results in practice. Here, ‘evidence-based medicine’ ushered in a new gold-standard that held the capacity to adapt along with the times. Additionally, this capacity to evolve doubly benefited the practice of healthcare alongside keeping pace with advancements in technology to always putting the patient’s needs (not the practitioner’s values or procedural expertise) first and foremost.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

How Evidence-Based Medicine Affected the Health Economy

Alongside this paradigm shift occurring in the medical workforce, access to healthcare across the globe skyrocketed. Patient treatment numbers increased, the penetration of first-world health practices into third-world countries was suddenly greater and more accessible than ever before, and as a result we in general became healthier, living longer. As health garnered more and more patient-investment and evidence-based medical teachings entered medical education, a new medical workforce of highly educated younger practitioners began to enter the fray – all extolling the virtues for rigorous R+D, continuous experimentation and strict statistical analysis in practice.

Inevitably, as we began treating health better, our healthcare institutions fell under increasing levels of strain. Last month I reported on the soon-to-be dire situation that these same institutions would undergo in the not too distant future. With the rate of life expectancy and access to health disproportionately outstripping the healthcare facilities that can service them – in design, in capacity, in rapidity – the global A+D community is currently finding itself called upon to answer to an enormous array of stakeholder needs.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

But what does this have to do with the design community?

At its very core, evidence-based medicine sought to achieve something deceptively simple: understanding the patient’s recovery possibilities more, and the practitioner’s abilities less. And, while A+D is increasingly involved in helping redefine the future of health and its facilities, we’ve begun to demonstrate a remarkable feat of pedagogy: we’ve borrowed medical-thinking practices and incorporated them into design-thinking results.

Seeking to understand the needs of the people we design for in this acutely sensitive environment, A+D front-runners in this field recognise that hitherto designers, planners, architects and specifiers were not seeking appropriate levels of explicit, empirical data to inform their design processes and decision-making. Not dissimilar to medical practitioners pre-1960s, we rarely sought explicit data that existed beyond our own experience/expertise (as practitioners) or that of our clients (the institution). The end-user – in this case, the patient – lost out. It was hardly surprising, then, that the largest criticism levelled at us throughout the previous three decades has been that A+D became too self-involved and ceased to solve actual social ills – all encapsulated in the catch-cry that ‘design is too important to be left to designers’.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

In our post-digital age, a diversity of needs and demands continues to grow for evidence-based approaches to designing our material environments. Whether residential, commercial, institutional or cultural, our creative practitioners are increasingly performing intelligence-gathering activities as the core of a new breed of design thinking. Through employing design processes intended to support existing user behaviours, limitations and needs, we’ve rethought the end-user: someone who is not forced to adapt themselves to the object of design, but adapting the object of design to the parameters and limits of their body. Across the entire playing field of A+D, such approaches have engendered a more cost-effective and well-liked end product (not to mention a loyal consumer).

And, this is relatively – in fact, surprisingly – a recent phenomenon. In 2008 a landmark systematic review for the design and health industries conclusively proved that designers are as importantly positioned as doctors for creating material healthcare worlds that actively contribute to patient recovery.

Simply, it’s design that embraces everyone … always.

 Follow Zenith’s evidence-based design journey here.

by David Congram

Tomorrow’s design… today!

At ZENITH, trend forecasting has been pushed to new frontiers.
Responding to the connected workplace of the future, ZENITH
creates products to meet emerging needs. Where, commonly,
design is reactive (where products developed are matched to a
client’s identified needs), ZENITH Design works at the forefront of
embryonic need and advanced technology. The team’s approach to
product innovation springs from extensive anticipatory research.
Drawing information from a range of research initiatives squarely
positions design thinking within the arena of empirical reasoning,
distilling the practice of design down to one key question: if this is
happening now, then what will happen next?

Bob Stewart, who sits at the helm of ZENITH Design, states:
“We’re very focused on what the end-user needs and what their
workplaces require. We have a forward-facing work methodology
in our design approach.” Little wonder, then, that the latest offering
from ZENITH Design, KISSEN, is already responding to the functional
requirements of a new breed of commercial environments. As a
collection of tables and workstations carrying a strong timber
aesthetic and distinct leg profile, the range takes its name from
the German word for ‘cushion’.


With an interchangeable kit of componentry and custom material
choices, KISSEN’s supreme economy of space streamlines the products’ form and accessory options to provide ease of team
expression and identity. Responding to the need for tomorrow’s
diverse work models, KISSEN seeks to foster connection in either
social or collaborative settings.

While KISSEN responds to the primacy of collaboration in the
commercial environment, EDO by Schamburg & Alvisse responds
to the desire for new degrees of flexibility. Inspired by Tokyo’s dori
(streets) and yokocho (laneways), the EDO Streetscape is an elegy to
the city’s vibrant melting pot of technology and tradition. Whether
offering flexible modularity for interactive team meetings, formal
catch-ups or more private settings for focus and retreat, in the
words of EDO’s designers, the range offers the design community
“the tools to create utsukushi basho (beautiful places) for people
to work, learn and refresh”.

EDO by Schamburg + Alvisse
EDO by Schamburg + Alvisse

Comprising a suite of single and supplementary modular
lounges, ottomans, collaborative modules and additional tablet
arms, EDO’s custom options carry across timber and powdercoat
legs, high or low backrests, removable armrests and upholstery.
KISSEN and EDO are available throughout Asia Pacific thanks
to the team at ZENITH. With showrooms throughout the region,
contact your nearest ZENITH team to view these latest collections
designed for tomorrow’s commercial sector.


EDO by Schamburg+Alvisse


Healthcare furniture - taceo lounge

The Unlikely, Inspiring and Curative Power of Design

The status of Australia’s healthcare sector is reaching crisis point. As the rate of critical illnesses in this country is higher than ever, what can A+D do to create a healthier tomorrow?

Collectively throughout Australia, close to 20 billion dollars will be dedicated to redevelopments and infrastructure programs for our healthcare industry in the next four years. While that number may surprise most of us, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that it will only continue to increase.

Last year, the total revenue generated by our healthcare industry surpassed $120 billion AUD – and with a projected annual growth of 3.4%, our population is increasingly becoming more and more reliant on healthcare facilities across the nation.

While many have questioned the need to allocate such an enormous amount of funding to redevelopment of facilities over, say cancer research or remote community healthcare, others are beginning to notice the inordinate amount of strain set upon both our healthcare spaces and practitioners.

Thanks to the National Census last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics confidently estimate that over 9.6 million people in Australia will be above the age of 65-years in 2064, equating to above 23% of Australia’s total projected population. Meanwhile, 1.9million will exceed the age of 85-years, constituting 5% of the total projected population. That we’re clearly a rapidly ageing country is not under dispute – that we’re prepared for it, however, very much is.

Increased chronic illnesses, increased numbers of the infirm, decreased numbers of healthcare practitioners, and increased demand placed on our healthcare facilities is beginning to yield damning results for our country’s health if we don’t act quickly.

This is where you – as part of Australia’s A+D community – can demonstrate pointed progressiveness. While the supply and demand for healthcare in any country depends on a combination of health/illness patterns and social, economic, environmental and technological variables, it very largely also depends on the material elements of such spaces in accurately responding to an enormous array of stakeholder needs – from the nurse just settling in to a 19-hour shift, all the way to a grieving loved-one or a critically ill patient.

That providing health isn’t a game for the feint of heart is an understatement. More and more, our A+D community is illustrating that providing health isn’t a game for the feint of imagination. While demand on health will inevitably increase in the coming years, A+D is uniquely positioned to facilitate the very material support that such a transition requires.

At the Australian Healthcare Week this month, one of Australia’s premium commercial design powerhouses – Zenith Interiors – will be presenting their latest portfolio, expertly curated for the needs of this growing industry: ZENITH CARE. Working with healthcare practitioners and patients at the intersection of advanced treatment facilities and designing for better health, ZENITH CARE meets the needs of the always-innovating healthcare sector with this collection of wellness-based designs to reimagine healing environments and equal the sophistication of advanced health equipment, techniques and healthcare strategies.

With a stellar line-up of European, Asian and Australian brands, ZENITH CARE represents one of the leading concerted efforts for the A+D community to help combat the problem of health today. From ensuring that all pieces in the ZENITH CARE range are Standards Approved under Class 9a of the Building Code of Australia, to assessing limitations and safety features, Team Zenith have provided solutions for patient and practitioner, alike.

Alleviating those situations which, even at the best of times are stressful and demanding, ZENITH CARE is immaculately curated to ensure that each design element is carefully considered from the perspective of promoting safety, comfort, wellbeing and ease – a much-needed offering to the entirety of ‘health’ and ‘healthcare’, today.

Join Zenith Interiors and all the latest influencers in the sectors of health and aged care at the Australian Healthcare Week, this March 8th-10th.


by David Congram