Dementia Ward Commission – Surface Patterns

Last week was such an amazing week as I got to see two huge and very special commissions draw to a close.  I was invited to attend the openings of both projects and felt privileged to be there and to have been part of it all.  One of them was the brand new Cancer Care Courtyard and Walkway which I’ll write about in more detail and post lots of photos of in a separate post but the project I’m going to tell you about today is the new Dementia Ward.

I think it’s only fair however, to warn you before I start, that as this was such a big project the blog post is likely to be a long one!  I’m going to give you a real ‘behind the scenes’ look at how I approached the commission and created each design.  If you don’t have time to look at all the development work or prefer to just look at the finished work, then please feel free to just scroll (much!) further down the post where I’ve included lots of photos of the actual finished space but for now, on with the post…….

It all began with a phone call from Kat Hetherington, the Arts Officer at York Hospital saying she had “the perfect project for me”, which she thought “was right up my street!”.  Well I was very intrigued and excited as I always love working on commissions for the Hospital but then I heard the words “but it’s quite a big project and you only have one week from today to complete the whole project and submit designs for manufacture!”.  Well, never one to turn a challenge down, I took a deep breath and accepted.  Fortunately, I had a quiet week as I was in between projects so I embraced the work and threw myself in!

The commission was to create surface pattern designs to be printed onto vinyl and attached to all the windows throughout the ward, create flower motifs for each bay door which would be plot cut out of vinyl and create artworks for some of the walls of the bays.  In total there were  84 windows, 9 doors and 3 walls!

The idea behind the designs was that each bay would be assigned a colour and a flower motif so that the patients could easily find their way back to their own bay. So, for example, beds 14-18 were assigned the colour yellow and the Daffodil motif.


The result was a light, airy and very colourful corridor!


To create the designs I began by hand drawing all the different motifs/flowers, first in pencil and then in black pen.  The finished designs were to be plot cut (similar to laser cutting) out of vinyl so each part of the flower had to be continuous with no separate leaves or petals.  I could have ‘holes’ or cut-outs in the design so I used this idea to create the shading and detail.  It was quite hard to draw in this way but I just had to keep in mind that anything black would be the vinyl and anything white would be cut out. Except on some of them where I drew them the other way round and then inverted them afterwards on the computer to to save on all the colouring in!!

Here are the actual drawings.Door Motif Sketches_

Close up details of the drawingsDoor Motif Sketches_detail

I then scanned the drawings into the computer and worked on them further until they were in a suitable file format for the plot cutting.


Here are all the finished motifs installed onto the doors.Door Motifs_final

Then there were the more functional door motifs that were required…Bath_Shower_Toilet Sketches

….which ended up looking like this after being plot cutBath_Shower_Toilet

The next part of the commission and possibly my favourite part, was to create a surface pattern design that was to be printed onto vinyl and attached to all the windows of the bays.  It had to be something that complimented and worked with each different motif and needed to be something subtle and not too busy or distracting.  I decided that an organic, trailing leaf pattern would work well with any kind of flower or plant motif.  Each bay would be differentiated in the same way as the doors, by it’s colour.  So all the bays would have the same design but in a different colourway to match it’s chosen colour.

First I hand drew sections of trailing leaves and flowers that I could then use to ‘build’ the layout of the designTrailing leavesTrailing Leaves_detail

I then scanned in the drawings, coloured them on the computer and started building the design by layering up the different trails.Trail PatternI wanted the design to have depth without being too bold or busy, so I used different tones of the same colour to help give it a layered feel.

Here are the finished designs on the different windows throughout the wardTrailing Leaves_red windowsThe ‘red bay’Trailing Leaves_purplesThe ‘purple bay’Trailing Leaves_greysThe ‘grey bay’Trailing Leaves_redsClose up of the ‘red bay’ windowsBlue RoomThe ‘blue bay’CorridorThe colourful corridorsilhouetteThe Trailing Leaves design on frosted vinyl in the Day RoomFrostedDetail of frosted vinyl

And finally, a sneaky picture of me with my designs!Rebecca Stoner

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mammoth post and managed to stay with me until the end!  It was a huge project and so many people have asked to see photos of the designs installed that I wanted to give you a real insight into how I approached the commission and developed the designs.  I’d love to hear what you think about it all.

A huge thank you to Harrisons Signs who printed, plot cut and installed all the vinyls and artworks.  They did an amazing job of colour matching all the printed vinyl to my colour samples and were extremely patient when we went through the sampling stage.  The finished colours and vinyls were exactly how I’d imagined them to be!