Morag Myerscough's geometric patterns brighten Sheffield Children’s Hospital's new wing

British graphic designer Morag Myerscough took a year creating four bespoke pattern schemes to decorate the walls of the new wing at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is enlivened by colourful illustrations from various different artists, and the latest to make her mark on the hospital walls is British designer Morag Myerscough.

Morag has designed schemes for 46 en-suite bedrooms and six multi-occupancy bays. It's the latest in a series of commissions by Artfelt, the Children’s Hospital Charity’s arts programme.

Her colourful bespoke patterns will join the likes of arts education duo Pencil & Help, who designed a giant hide-and-seek game on lobby walls, and character design duo Tado who created vinyl decorations for the hydrotherapy pool.

The 46 rooms are part of the hospital’s new wing and were specifically created to help make the clinical area more comfortable. Designed by Avanti Architects, plugs and wire are hidden behind Formica panels and the rooms have a softer, domestic touch.

Morag designed four schemes that rotate throughout the rooms, including a paler colourway specifically designed for children who have conditions like autism and may have intolerance to bright patterns. 

“Although the rooms are for children I didn’t want them to be childish because children of all different age groups will be staying in them,” said Morag. “I also wanted to create somewhere parents would be happy to spend time too. It was just about making a bedroom that you feel good to be in.”

Advertisement. Article continues below

Morag’s designs are typically characterised by engaging boldness. Her work includes the conversion of a train to a café, installations, exhibitions and buildings, as well as curating exhibitions for London’s Design Museum and wayfinding for the Barbican Centre and the Tate Modern’s new Herzog and De Meuron extension.

Because Morag was working within the clinical area on this project, everything she produced had to be completely sterile and easy to clean – so painting straight onto the walls wasn’t an option. Morag’s brief was to create a design on Formica. 

“The wood grain on Formica is actually screen printed on to paper and then laminated. So to get the really pure colours that I wanted I had hoped to screen print my own pattern onto the existing wood grain,” she says. 

“Unfortunately we couldn’t do that because you can only screen print one or two colours on to the paper before it disintegrates.” 

The final decision was to scan the wood grain and then digitally print the patterns before printing it onto paper and laminating like normal Formica. This process took a year to complete.

“I’d never done bedrooms before,” said Morag. “I loved the challenge. They’re really complex compared to corridors or more public spaces – especially in a children’s hospital because you’re creating for patients who have various conditions and there are a lot more controls involved.”

Advertisement. Article continues below

Morag and Artfelt manager Cat Powell gathered information from patients and nurses to see what colours and patterns were preferred most, and what clinical factors needed to be considered.

Artfelt is funded by the Children’s Hospital Charity as part of its commitment to improving the environment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital – one in four stand-alone children’s hospitals in the UK.

Artfelt has previously worked alongside illustrator and designer Nick Deakin and design studio Thomas.Matthews among others. Sheffield Children's Hospital showcases work by TADO, Pete McKee, Jonathan Wilkinson and James Green in a dedicated art gallery along its main corridor.

Morag established her company Studio Myerscough in 1993 and founded Supergrouplondon with Luke Morgan in 2010. The British designer works on collaborative community projects such as creating a youth centre based on a poem written by local young people in London for the Sorrell Foundation.