42th Research Workshop (Online)
Date: 11 July 2020 at 15.00-17.00
Presenter：Chie Suzuki（University of Brighton）
Implementing ‘British Welfare State’ through ‘Science of Design’: L. Bruce Archer, Design Methods and King’s Fund Project in 1960s
After NHS was established in 1948 and the British welfare state had started seeking innovations in medical sphere in 1950s. Their goal was to pursuit efficiency in cost and labor, responding to concerns from then ministry of health, Enoch Powell. The idea of mass-producing and implementing cost-effective standardized products into hospitals attracted the government. Especially, in the early 1960s, the acute shortage of labor force in nursing sector was also a serious issue. Therefore, the demand for redesigning preexisting heavy beds was urgent. The new beds expected to be light and mobile, so that nurses’ physical workload could be reduced, and they were able to work in a smaller group when moving beds.
The King’s Fund is an independent think tank in London. After the establishment of NHS, the fund became a think tank and started to get involved with broader range of welfare issues in England; such as hospital organization, training and design innovations. In the early 1960s, they were planning on establishing a center for hospital organization and improvement. Simultaneously, Professor Misha Black, the head of the School of Industrial Design (Engineering) Research Unit at Royal College of Arts at the time, appointed an industrial designer Bruce Archer to lead a project team that focused on hospital equipment. Professor Misha Black approached the King’s Fund, and they started to work conjunctly with each other on innovation hospital beds from 1963 to 1967, funded by Nuffield foundation. After this four-year project, the new hospital bed, known as “King’s Fund Bed,” was invented and it became the British standard model. This paper examines the design history of this “King’s Fund Bed Project,” and interrogates its approach and asks how ‘welfare state’ was implemented through ‘rational’ design methods.
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