Interior Architecture Alumna Investigates Impact of Design on Patients

Sally Dankner ’17 discussed her research at the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference.

Alumna Sally Dankner ’17 discussed her research at the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference in Orlando.

Can art, graphics and finishes provide a soothing effect on hospital patients? M.S. in interior architecture alumna Sally Dankner ’17 thinks fanciful images and colors could provoke imagination, prevent boredom and create a sense of delight.

She shared her research on the impact of interior design on patients in the healthcare environment at the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference earlier this month.

“Healthcare settings can be stressful environments for patients, families and caregivers,” said Dankner, now a healthcare interior designer at EwingCole in Philadelphia. “Growing scientific research shows thoughtfully designed healthcare environments can reduce patient anxiety, create patient satisfaction and improve outcomes.”

As a graduate student, Dankner received a grant from building products company Construction Specialties (CS) to conduct research where she explored positive visual distractions, including art, graphics, finishes and color. She worked under the leadership of Lauren Baumbach, director of the interior design and interior architecture programs at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).

“Our interiors programs at Jefferson emphasize the importance of how the design of interior environments impact the wellness and health of people’s lives,” Baumbach said. “As a student, Sally worked on the designs of a hospital unit and a wellness center and became fascinated with how these environments might be better designed to help people. This grant from Construction Specialties allowed her to do a focused investigation into design strategies that reduce stress in healthcare settings.”

At the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference in Orlando, Dankner attended sessions and spent time at CS’ booth discussing her research with industry experts.

“Collaborating with students from leading design schools in which they can fully explore design impact helps us stay current,” said Amy DeVore, business development manager for interior wall protection at CS. “It also gives us valuable information to share with our design and manufacturing communities, as well as our customers.”

Dankner said the enriching experience reaffirmed her desire to work in the healthcare design field. “I believe the built environment has a strong impact on our health and well-being,” she said.

DesignIntelligence recently ranked the B.S. in interior design program at Jefferson in the top 20 in the country. In addition, the company named Lisa Phillips, assistant professor of interior design, one of the 25 most admired educators for 2017-2018. The prestigious annual ranking is based on surveys of hiring professionals who indicated which schools they think best prepare students for success in interior design.

Posted in University Headlines