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The number one issue with aquariums in high risk clinical environments is infection control! An aquarium situated in a healthcare interior like a clinic, surgery or care home not only creates a dynamic and visually appealing feature, but is an effective tool for reducing anxiety, improving recovery and overall wellbeing. These remarkable benefits are often overshadowed by the potential health risk posed by the standard design aquarium system in clinical settings.

Aquariums can quite easily become hubs for communal cross infection as people (children in particular) will have a tendency to touch the display, leaving behind bacteria and viruses on the surface of the glass and surrounding cabinetry.  The other source of potential infection is the water itself, with waterborne bacteria potentially creating further complications with recovering patients.

Managing hygiene and cross contamination between patients, staff and members of the public is a major challenge faced by healthcare facilities. Hygiene is a big topic within this sector and the media, with recent outbreaks of so called super bugs causing epidemics on local and national levels. There are serious financial implications connected to poor hygiene for healthcare organisations. Consequences in the event of an outbreak can vary from more money been spent on resources for cleaning and treatments, to a chronic loss of revenue from closures of departments and buildings. This can be a real issue for private organisations that rely on reputation and trust to ensure future sales and consistent revenue.

The design of healthcare spaces has recently become a very specific niche within architectural and interior design. For a designer, creating beautiful healthcare spaces presents a difficult challenge as the usual materials and surfaces that most designers like to work with (i.e. wood, stone and fabrics) are unsuitable for the healthcare environment.

These materials contain pores that allow pathogens to hide and multiply, making these surfaces difficult to keep hygienically clean.  Non-porous surfaces like plastic, glass, corian and metals are typically used in these environments as they are easy to clean, however if not applied correctly these surfaces can create a very clinical feel to the environment. Recent innovations in this sector have led to the development of antimicrobial surfaces. These surfaces are made up of materials that contain properties which disrupt the molecular structures of bacteria and viruses causing them to die on contact.

By incorporating non-porous materials and antimicrobial technology into the design of an aquarium you can significantly reduce or even eliminate the risks related to poor hygiene and cross infection. The following design features are should be considered when specifying an aquarium into the layout of a healthcare space:

  1. Laminate the aquarium outer surface with antimicrobial glass such as the one developed by AGC.
  2. The support frame that bears the weight of an aquarium is usually made of wood, powder coated steel, or anodized aluminium. By using a copper plated aluminium frame you can prevent bacteria and fungus growing on those hard to reach surfaces.
  3. For cabinetry doors and panelling use corian or acyrllic. They are not anti-microbial but are strong, non-porous materials that are easy to clean and come in a wide range of colours.
  4. Alternatively use anti-microbial Copper or copper alloys (some copper alloys look like stainless steel) for doors and panelling.
  5. Significantly reduce the threat of waterborne bacteria and viruses by incorporating UV sterilisers into the aquarium circulation system. UV sterilisers continuously kill microorganisms by damaging the DNA.
  6. Ventilate the aquarium via extraction and ducting to remove moist air within the cabinetry preventing the proliferation fungus and the spread of spores.

Creating attractive spaces that are safe and suitable for the application intended is the challenge faced by every designer working with healthcare environments. By specifying interesting features that are made out of the right material a designer can transform a dull, emotionless clinical space into a visceral experience that encourages good wellbeing and a positive state of mind. The use of antimicrobial materials will increase the material cost of a project budget. However this initial investment pales in comparison to the costs associated with an outbreak.  Incorporating the right materials into the construction of a healthcare aquarium allows a designer to gain all the visual benefits an aquarium adds to a space whilst minimising the potential risks to patients and the public.

Author:  Aquarium designer, SBID member Akil Gordon-Beckford

Can you imagine just five years ago , the human race embracing technology in such a dynamic and dramatic way , Smartphones have become a way of life, young and old now have the world wide web at their fingertips and digital cameras at the ready!

Along with tablets (mobile computers) communication with loved ones and friends is now a breeze with the help of apps such as Face time , Skype , etc.

YouTube for me is for sure the future if you haven’t got a  YouTube TV channel make sure its high on your list of priorities before the year is out , YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine and the biggest growing video sharing  website in the world at the moment  and since it was purchased by Google, this popularity is showing no signs of stopping. Video is an important feature of maintaining a web presence, and is a highly effective marketing tool.

YouTube receives somewhere in the region of 3 billion searches a month. Some of the people making these searches will be potential clients of yours, and it is important not to miss out on this market. As with any other aspect of SEO, your use of keywords is vital. Make sure your video title features your strongest keyword, and that it is relevant to the content.

I realised the phenomenon of video back in 2011. A couple of years earlier in 2007 I was introduced into the sport of kite surfing after falling in love with the sport on a trip to Rhosneigr in Anglesey Wales, I followed the sport closely through the power of video and soon became familiar with the professional athletes and brands associated with them.

A couple more years passed and I finally found the time to go and learn to kite surf , all my research and brand awareness was found through the internet, It got me thinking the power of video is such an amazing tool I could use this in my own industry and so I did! I  employed a fantastic company Shutterbox Films to come and film and produce a short movie in my showroom owners Lee and Dawn are so cool their portfolio of work is immense , they did a fantastic job for me.

Fast forwarding to 2013 I now employ a small in-house team to look after my websites, blog, social media, publications and now new YouTube TV channel we have now produced our own videos showcasing client case studies, bringing to life photographs potential clients can now actually get a feel of your portfolio along with your beautiful photographs of your work.

We have plenty more case studies lined up for later this year together with a launch of a brand new resource publication dedicated to Architects , Designers and Interior Designers this will include augmented reality driven by Aurasma bringing video to printed media our next edition of Revealed Design Home Interiors is due out too later this year.

Obviously it’s not quite so easy to just make a video and pop it on YouTube or another video sharing site like Vimeo , you have to promote it to get views social media comes in perfectly and with the help of your clients , followers and peers you can soon spread the word.

Written by SBID Member and Interior Designer Lisa Melvin

Check out Lisa Melvin’s YouTube TV channel at

British bespoke bed-maker and acclaimed SBID member, Vi-Spring, has become the first UK bed-maker to be awarded the Woolmark for its luxurious collection of all-wool beds.  Made using 100 per cent wool – from fillings to upholstery – Vi-Spring’s Shetland Collection is the first of its kind, with exclusive use of real Shetland wool; a naturally soft, warm and sustainable fibre.

Recognised around the world, the respected Woolmark is synonymous with quality and guaranteed wool content. Vi-Spring’s luxury all-wool range, The Shetland Collection, underwent rigorous independent testing to comply with the Woolmark’s quality and performance criteria.

Vi-Spring’s Shetland Superb with Wool Sovereign divan

Each and every bed is handcrafted in Vi-Spring’s Devon workshop using the finest mix of real Shetland wool and pure Platinum Certified British Fleece Wool and finished with hand-tied woollen tufts. A selection is available of the highest quality all-wool fabrics to cover divan base and headboard to create a stand out look in the bedroom.

A planet friendly fibre, wool is uniquely suited to bed-making thanks to its natural softness, warmth and durability. It is an effective insulator and works to keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and to draw moisture away from the body before releasing it into the air, ensuring a clean, fresh and hypoallergenic sleeping surface. Wool is also naturally resistant to dust mites, making a perfect choice for allergy sufferers.

Vi-Spring is proud to promote the Woolmark with The Shetland Collection, which includes the Shetland and Shetland Superb (as well as the Gatcombe and Marrister bedstead mattress, which are exclusive to John Lewis). Vi-Spring is also a keen supporter of the Campaign for Wool, which is committed to preserving Britain’s precious wool industry.


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