London Hospital to Refurbish Children's Unit With Inspiration From Modern Artists

Ed Reeve/Courtesy Josef and Anni Albers Foundation

Josef and Anni Albers believed that art should be a “visual resting place.”

Josef and Anni Albers were two of the most prominent artists during the 20th century. They were known for their iconic geometric patterns and the use of colors with works displayed throughout the world, starting in the 1940s. Now, that vision is inspiring the interior design of a refurbished children’s unit at St Mary’s public Hospital in London.

The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial Health Charity to make the £10 million ($12 million) refurbishment happen. The result was wall murals and prints from Josef’s Homage to the Square series, geometric door designs inspired by Josef’s ‘wall glass paintings,’ and bespoke bed screens and wallpaper taken from Anni’s designs.

James Gifford-Mead/Courtesy Josef and Anni Albers Foundation

“Anni and Josef believed that art should not reflect the difficulties of everyday existence, but should provide an alternative,” said Nicholas Fox Weber, Executive Director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in a statement. “These people fled Nazi Germany in 1933, and if you look at their art from 1933, you don’t see the hazards from that trip—you see an alternative. If they had been isolated in the crisis going on at this moment, they wouldn’t want the art to reflect COVID-19. They would want art to be a complete diversion from it.”

Josef Albers also believed yellow was the color of healing and is why the reception, waiting area, and parents’ room have all been designed with this in mind. The goal is to bring a little light and warmth to an otherwise sterile space.

Ed Reeve/Courtesy Josef and Anni Albers Foundation

“The new unit looks truly wonderful,” said Lucy Zacaria, Head of Arts at Imperial Health Charity. “The works of Josef and Anni Albers have transformed the space, bringing color and movement into what may otherwise seem a very sterile environment. The playful, modernist designs work particularly well, appealing to children and adults alike.”