An Interview with Linda Porter Bishop

An Interview with Linda Porter Bishop

HEALTHCARE OVERSEAS
Changes in the landscape and confusion in today's furniture market.

Linda has been a registered interior designer in Texas for 19 years. She is a professional member of ASID and IIDA and has her LEED-AP certification. She is one of 50 Founding Members of AAHID (2004). She has designed several furniture collections. Along with interior designer Iris Dates, Linda designed the award-winning Embrace Collection for Carolina. She has won local ASID, state IIDA and national and international design awards. She has been part of the editorial review board for HERD Journal since its beginning, one of two interior designers out of 30 worldwide reviewers.
 
What have you been up to since designing the Embrace collection for Carolina?
In 2008, I jumped into an amazing opportunity to live and work in Doha, Qatar. I sold my home, my car, left my grown children (who were wonderfully supportive!) and worked briefly for a U.S. firm there. Then my client, the government-owned healthcare system, hired me. I worked in The Center for Healthcare Improvement at Hamad Medical Center. It was my dream job, and I worked with a wonderful group of people from all over the world.
 
While in Doha, I was asked to design a healthcare product line for the Asia Pacific division of a U.S. furniture company, and I moved to Shanghai in 2012. Another dream job! My commission evolved to overseeing the product development, branding and marketing strategies for the line. As that neared completion, I started consulting with Robarts Spaces in Beijing on their hospital and senior living projects; beautiful work and beautiful people!
 
In 2015, I decided it was time to come home. Air pollution and daily challenges with the Internet just became too much to handle; and I missed family!
 
While you were working overseas, how would you describe the general state of Healthcare to be in those countries?
Qatar and the Middle East are very different from China, and both are very different from the U.S.
 
Qatar is an interesting study of contrasts: they’ve leapfrogged ahead with technology and are slowly developing the infrastructure to support it. It is with the very best of intentions that they build the most modern healthcare facilities. Their challenge is bringing their citizens through the systems to support the facilities without the help of expert oversight.
 
In China, it is another but different contrast: there’s the beautiful tradition of TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, that has sustained the citizens for thousands of years. At the same time, there’s the drive to be recognized globally as a world leader, so there’s been a rush to construct these massive healthcare centers with the latest technology. But as in Qatar, the infrastructure hasn’t caught up, and often the technology is plentiful but unused.
 
How is (or isn’t) that different than Healthcare in the US?
Everything is different.
 
There are very basic things for designers, like learning to convert our Imperial dimensions into metric. The design process is also very different. In Qatar, owners wanted a final rendering at the first meeting, and there was no consideration for any user input. In China, you were required to present “inspiration photos” for your design, and there was no appreciation of creativity.
On the positive side, both countries invested in many tours to the U.S. to tour our well-known facilities. In the case of Qatar, they actively seek partnerships with leading facilities to bring their knowledge and expertise back to Qatar.
 
As far as healthcare furniture, there’s nothing available around the world that is similar to U.S. healthcare furniture. There’s also no appreciation for it; it is often beautiful but totally inappropriate high-end contemporary pieces. There are lots of opportunities for education regarding infection control and patient safety.
 
What do you see as the biggest issues facing Interior Designers in the US that are designing Healthcare spaces?
Technology and Evidence-based Design has changed everything.
 
It’s incumbent on each of us to keep up with the latest research and not to rely on our intuition or what we did on our last project. You have to spend time reading and understanding the implications of the data to your projects.
 
You have to spend time with all segments of the population and observe them in a healthcare setting: what do patients need and then solve the puzzles when designing the environment and when specifying appropriate products.
 
Where do you see Healthcare Interior Design in 10 years?
First, I think we need to think about our work as Health and Care Design. It addresses the unique needs of hospitals and clinics as “care” environments.

From a branding and marketing perspective, it’s only a short hop to senior living — or what I call “healthcare-lite.” That opens up a new market.
With this huge wave of retiring Baby Boomers, we have an opportunity to redefine what those environments will look like. Most of us don’t live in a Chippendale-inspired environment; I’m eagerly awaiting a senior living provider who gets this concept.
 
As each generation of designers enter the market, their preferences have taken over the market and the preferences of the older generation has been phased out. But we have so many people living and working longer, and we need to find a respect for each and a recognition of their individual tastes with our design solutions.

View complete interview here.
Sep 16, 2016 BLOG/Design