Can Design Save your Life? - An Art Fund debate

  • 22 April 2008

Achievements and innovation in design are changing, improving and challenging the worlds of medicine, health and well-being. The debate will explore the ways in which the design and medical worlds intersect and ask whether design really can save your life?

Thursday 29 May
Drinks 6.30pm, Talk 7.00pm
Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, NW1
Nearest tube: Euston Square
Tickets £12, includes glass of wine

Journalist, author, and curator Henrietta Thompson will chair the debate with panellists Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes for Wellcome Collection, who has commissioned displays from some of the best young British designers; Jim Dawton, Director of Pearson Matthews, known for the innovation and development of breakthrough healthcare products; rising star designer, Sally Halls; and Sunand Prasad, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Senior Partner at leading healthcare architecture firm, Penoyre & Prasad.

Wellcome Collection is one of the four projects shortlisted for The Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries 2008. There will be a chance to visit its three exhibition galleries, which explore the connections between medicine, life and art.

This event is being held in conjunction with Museum and Galleries Month, the UK-wide celebration of museums and galleries which takes place in May, and whose theme this year is 'Ideas and Innovation'.


Panellist’s information:

Ken Arnold - is Head of Public Programmes at The Wellcome Trust and co-curator of the permanent galleries at Wellcome Collection. He has been working at the Trust for 15 years, and in that time has curated many exhibitions including ‘Treat yourself’ for The Science Museum. He is also co-editor of Medicine Man, The Forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome and has commissioned displays from the best young British designers for the windows of the Wellcome Trust's headquarters at 215 Euston Road.

Jim Dawton - Director of Pearson Matthews, known for their innovation and development of breakthrough healthcare products, from a portable, lightweight case for osteoporosis drug to smaller, faster, more accurate blood glucose meters to one-handed plaster applicators.

Sally Halls - developed an interest in medical design at the Royal College of Art, whilst working on her award winning graduation project which looked at how incubators could be humanised to allow more contact between mother and child. Sally now works at the Helen Hamlyn Centre where her portfolio includes product, service & communication design as well as the development of design strategy in the health sector. She was part of a team that redesigned the resus:station , a resuscitation trolley which went on to receive two Medical Futures Innovation Awards: Best Medical Device, and Overall Winner in the Anaesthesia and Critical Care category. She has since worked with the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) to produce industry wide guidelines on the design of injectable medicines, and is currently improving the design of infusion devices.

Sunand Prasad - Co-founder of Penoyre & Prasad in 1988, he has played a central role in the design and delivery of the practice’s 300 plus projects. He is closely involved in guiding the design philosophy of the practice and the design development of projects. His experience encompasses education, healthcare, housing, the arts, commercial development, sustainable design and masterplanning. Sunand is currently President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), previously the Vice President for Policy and Strategy, chair of the Climate Change Board and founder of Constructive Change. He is a trustee of Architects-for-Aid and a member of the Mayor of London’s 4th Plinth Commissioning Group.

Henrietta Thompson (chair) - Journalist, author, curator and editor Henrietta writes regularly about architecture, design and technology for Arena, Business Life, the Independent on Sunday, Monocle, Wallpaper*, the Guardian and the Architects Journal. She is author of Phone Book, the first book to be published internationally about mobile phone culture and design, and Simply Contemporary. As a curator, her exhibitions include the annual 100% Norway, and Hearwear (V&A 2005) among others. She is currently writing a series of books about new resourceful design with Thames & Hudson.

Notes to Editors:

Recent Art happen highlights include: White Cube’s Tim Marlow leading a heated discussion of the proposition All Modern Art is Leftwing at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, with Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, Guardian writer Munira Mirza and controversial portraitist Jonathan Yeo; Street Art vs. Fine Art: Time Out Art Editor Ossian Ward and Street Renegades author Francesca Gavin joined artists Pure Evil and Part2ism to discuss the changing nature of Street Art and its place within the contemporary fine art world and London vs. The Suburbs: Acclaimed musician Billy Bragg, along with author Iain Sinclair, poet Tobias Hill, and artists Susanna Edwards and Richard Wentworth debated the relationship between London and suburbia at the Museum of London.

The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.
It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.
Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.
For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit