Get Well Sooner

Graphic Design Transforms a Barcelona Hospital Into A Kid-Friendly Wonderland

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Dani Rubio Arauna and Rai Pinto transform Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona into a place of fun for children, their families and staff. A wunderkind hide and seek jungle comes to life on every floor and every door of the hospital, sweeping countless accolades along the way, including the Designism Cube at the ADC 94th Annual Awards.

“I’m especially proud of awards such as ADC, that marry graphic design with advertising projects. In my opinion, these two disciplines have a lot in common, but they’re very different things. They play with different tools and rules.”

With Dani on graphics and Rai on the industrial/interior design front, the team set out to create two and three-dimensional, life-sized animal shapes, Even with limited resources – namely wood, paint and vinyl – the social welfare situation in Spain can’t rain on this parade (or rather safari). The results are stunning. “The animals are made of geometric patterns so you have to stand at a certain distance to discover the animal shape. Some of them are even hidden in the forms of the architecture, like the rhino. We like things to have different layers of reading. You can just see colors, you can see an animal or you can see an animal that’s telling you something. Kids always have fun discovering hidden things.” More importantly, the children not only love it, but they have been known to heal faster in this new environment. For Dani and Rai, animals were an easy choice in answering the creative ask for making a hospital look like anything but a hospital. They are gender neutral and universally interesting. Plus, given their design, they are a whole lot of fun to find. From top to bottom, you’ll discover flamingos, bears, monkeys and kangaroos. Some are even functional, like the jellyfish at the emergency desk, used to support bags or baby cots. Originally built in the seventies, Hospital Sant Joan de Déu was in definite need of perking up, but no one had anticipated international acclaim.  Moreover, plans for critter expansion inside its walls is expected in the coming months.

“Good design should be everywhere, not only in art galleries and design magazines. As designers, I think it’s very important to exert ourselves in things made for common people and public spaces, and not only just to serve the creative field. Design for public organizations for instance should be at the same level as design for the art world. I didn’t expect to make a hospital look like an art gallery, but maybe there shouldn’t be such a big difference between one and the other.”

We couldn’t agree more. Special thanks to Dani Rubio Aruana.