A Better Hospital Chair For Moms To Nurture Premature Babies

For the parents of babies born prematurely, the neonatal unit can be the setting of a nightmare. No one is there by choice, and babies are separated by the dystopian translucent prisons of incubation. Moms and dads may be encouraged to hold the child for vital skin-to-skin contact–especially for breastfeeding in this critical time–yet the only seats are often fold-out chairs in cramped quarters.

The Embrace Chair, by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Ricky Kloosterman, is a seat designed to bring paternal warmth and privacy to a public space. The outer shell wraps around a bed of hospital-grade leather, providing both a cocoon for coddling as well as easy sterilization and cord management for monitors and IV drips.

“When you sit in [existing] chairs your are still surrounded by all the technology,” Kloosterman writes via email. “I wanted to create a moment of rest.”

Adding high, cubical-esque walls to seating is trendy approach to the office furniture market, but in hospitals, it’s clear that most furniture has been designed for easy doctor access rather than patient privacy. So it’s easy to imagine other places Embrace would be welcomed into clinical environments. As Kloosterman has received feedback from the medical and design communities on her creation, she’s heard it could be integrated for services like kidney dialysis or chemotherapy. And in fact, being but one of countless new dads who’s sat in a hospital room, watching his partner attempt to cuddle and infant and nurse him for the first time on a hospital bed, I could see how a less medically focused, more private, and casually ergonomic space would have been so much preferable to the options today.

As of now, Kloosterman is seeking out a grant to continue her development of the Embrace. With any luck, at least some of its ideas will catch on.