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Recently I was interviewed by one of the biggest design consultancies in the country—IDEO.

They wanted to pick my brain about how design and emotions play a role in the environment of the elderly.

The interview took place in a 3 million dollar, 2-story San Francisco Airbnb where the Senior Interactive Designer and Design Researcher from Boston were staying.

The very first thing I did when I got there was to… visit the bathroom.

And the second I stepped into the powder room I was greeted by very expensive-looking artwork hung over the toilet: the stern face of a wide-eyed older man staring at me.

Here’s one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits that gave me a similar vibe (sorry Rembrandt but it’s true):


And honestly, it made me feel very uncomfortable and I finished up my business as quickly as humanly possible.

I had to take a moment to consciously shift my energy to a more positive place before the interview began.

This experience was an important reminder of the value of intentional artwork in the design of bathrooms.

Your bathroom is an extension of the compassionate care you provide.

Beyond cleanliness and smelling fresh, you want it to feel uplifting and hopeful, and not a downer.

Certain modalities of artwork have been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart-rate, anxiety, and increase feelings of well-being and optimism and the feel good hormone–oxytocin.

Here’s an example of this kind of artwork by Portland nature photographer Peter C. Blanchard of Manifest Photo.


Ahhhh… those dreamy clouds, right?

Now, imagine your patient arrives to your practice and immediately needs to visit your (oftentimes windowless) bathroom.

And this precious image greets her or him with feelings of expansion, light, hope, and new beginnings.

With this one act of design, you have added value to your practice and are improving patient outcomes.

Here’s the thing about good patient-centered design:

It keeps working for you, over and over again.

And that is a great investment in you.

Your Biggest Supporter,


P.S. Check out more of Peter’s evidence-based art here. Mention my name and get 10% off any of his prints.