Public hospitals and gorgeousness are not really normally associated. But when Dole SA asked us to revamp a patients’ lounge at Groote Schuur’s renal oncology unit, CPUT design lecturer Janet van Graan and I squeezed the budget for materials to make some beautiful objects for the enjoyment of long-term patients who use the lounge.

Recovering transplant patients might be confined to the unit for anything up to four months at a time and until this refurbishment, the only space to watch TV and break from the wards was a room that, with the exception of an elderly TV and a row of ugly attached chairs, had become the dumping ground for old fridges and other items needing storage.

At the time we started working on the revamp, a couple of patients and nurses happened to be from the Richtersveld and this inspired the imagery incorporated into a large felt, wool and fabric wall piece in the lounge and the huge ‘kokerboom’ noticeboards which now hold messages, notices and photos in the passage outside the lounge.

We called the collection I MADE IT MYSELF imagining that the tactile, textured and easy to make objects could easily be made by patients with time on their hands and  inspired enough to try .

Materials were either recycled like the lampshade made of plastic bottle tops or relatively easy to find. Janet made the elegant riempie lampshades with knotted leather strips and used cork tiles and painted timber  for the noticeboards.

To screen an ugly internal window while allowing light to filter through to the passage, she mounted  craft fabric on a frame and the legend LOVE LIVE HEAL was cross-stitched on it.

LOVE LIVE HEAL at Groote Schuur’s Renal Oncology unit for Dole SA 2008.