In line with Anni Albers long-held belief that art should be an absorbing source of diversion, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation has partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial Health Charity to create the interiors for a children’s hospital in London.

For Josef and Anni Albers – lifelong artistic adventurers, and pioneers of 20th century modernism – art and ethos intertwine. For them, the timeless qualities of art and rhythmic calming of pattern allow us to endure some of life’s greatest challenges. Their foundation, set up by Josef in 1971, aims to further this vision, both in terms of aesthetic remembrance and practical assistance.

Albers NHS Foundation
Photography: Ed Reeve. Courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation

This unique project combines state-of-the-art clinical equipment with artworks donated by the Albers Foundation, including, among other works, important wall murals and prints from Josef Albers’ ‘Homage to the Square’ series – a progression that occupied the artist for 25 years of his career. It also sees Anni’s therapeutically iterative designs reflected in bespoke bed screens and wallpaper. Implemented in partnership with the interior graphic design team at Sable&Hawkes, yellow is prominent throughout, echoing Josef’s belief that yellow was the colour of healing. A warm and welcoming environment greets all.

The children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital provides care for children with life-threatening conditions and those who have experienced acute trauma. It currently treats over 400 children annually. Since 2016, it has been undergoing a £10 million refurbishment (of which this project is a part), extending the number of intensive care beds from eight to 15, enabling staff to treat an extra 200 children a year.

The partnership with the Albers Foundation started when director Nicholas Fox Weber, (whose grandson Wilder Fox Smith was born at St Mary’s in 2014), learned of the hospital’s extension project. ‘With energy and heart, the people at St Mary’s have realised the wonderful transformation of the children’s intensive care unit to an unprecedented degree,’ he explains. ‘My hope is that it will become the benchmark of what can be done worldwide wherever there are children – and the people who love them – in need.’ §

Photography: Ed Reeve. Courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation