of people live in institutional residences that differ significantly from their
homes. This article looks closely into
the quality of these habitations and points out some critical
characteristics based on a research
project called CoWell. One salient
question circles around the concept of homeyness, which in many countries is
the main objective to realize in institutional living. Some kind of artification is implemented and is
seen as a means for achieving a homey atmosphere and of stimulating the
inhabitants and the staff. However, very
little research has been done on homeyness.
Cleanliness, permanence, and randomness are often recognizable in institutional
living. These three features create a
special quality and they affect artification.
However, the question of who should make decisions concerning
artification is not dealt with in official reports and research literature. The conception of artification as a process would support measures to
improve the milieu and help to meet the many divergent interests the habitat
design, elderly care centers, homeyness, institutional living, well-being
is generally recognized that a good
environment enhances physiological, psychological, and social capacities
and improves the quality of life. Therefore,
special measures are taken with the aim of improving the quality of
environments. One of the possible means
is artification. Hence, my objective
here is to look more closely at how art is conceived as a means of improving
well-being. After my general
introduction, I present institutional living as one particular illustration, as
I believe that it may also help guide us in enhancing well-being in other
projects propose that art and well-being are related, but such a relationship
cannot at all be considered clear.
Nor is it clear how art affects institutional living. Therefore, I shall attempt to show a possible
juncture between art and well-being, in particular, as a way of understanding
the elements of well-being that art can influence. The usual basic assumption is simply that art
in some form increases well-being, and therefore is introduced into different
spaces and contexts, such as municipal areas, workplaces, residences, and
hospitals. Yet the results of research
at the international level are still contradictory on how art affects
It is possible that different forms of art affect well-being in different ways,
so that some have a greater and faster influence than others. Moreover, the view of art among subcultures
almost never appears in research; instead, the question is more closely one of
mainstream, middle-class awareness or the view of art canonized in the Western
turning to my particular theme, I would like to ask why art and artification
should be scrutinized in this context. Should
art and artification be incorporated into a discussion of well-being at all? I
do not have to look far to find the answer because art is often mentioned in
articles and reports. The current trend
is to design institutional living facilities that do not have an
“institutional” flavor, so such buildings and their furnishings always seem to
require enhancement. In a home, this
“extra” factor takes a particular form on a personal level over an inhabitant’s
life span. Along with the necessary space
and practical items, many other things, such as pictures, equipment for
hobbies, gifts, and souvenirs, come into play. In this manner, the home, as a
habitat, forms an entity whose shapes and patterns do not always have clear
boundaries between practical, decorative, entertaining, and artistic forms. These constitute the inhabitant’s integrity,
which, from the perspective of well-being, is fundamental. This type of complexity is not built into
institutional living, and these types of objects are not brought to
institutions or collected in the same manner.
In the institutional habitat, the non-institutional features are
provided by others, not the residents, especially in public or shared areas. They are often art works or decorative
objects that do not necessarily have any connection with the lives of the
residents or staff. The milieu of
institutional living both becomes artified and is artified in this manner.
This gives rise to an interesting bypath concerning the relationship between
artification and decoration
the topic of this article, I have chosen the milieu
of one group living in institutions, the elderly. I examine the appearance of art within this
context as part of the more general objective of well-being. According to the materials I have consulted,
art always appears in the environment of those living in such an institution.
In addition to paintings and other art
objects, the artification of institutional living spaces can involve other
genres, like music, theatrical art, and literature, and are of differing quality
when they are produced in these places. It
can also be said that art is consumed in these institutions when people
encounter art and when the milieu is artified in this way.
speaking of art genres, the characteristics of a constructed environment, such
as space, architecture, furniture, and other design products, cannot be
The question touches on the concepts of architecture and design, both of which may
incorporate artistic qualities. Thus,
the problem of artification can even extend to spatial and product design. Furthermore, artification can be broadened to
include the actual care work in institutions when we remember, for example, that
the making of music and other performances are sometimes carried out in
addition to, or as part of, basic care. Artification
could be extended to touch the entire organization comprising basic care, decision-making,
of good environments often contain illustrations of inspiring spaces and
furnishings. Many countries have drawn
up guidelines and criteria for achieving a good milieu. In this article, however, I do not analyze
these recommendations, although I do refer to them. Instead, my objective is to concentrate on one problem that I feel is
important and has remained almost completely untouched, the artistic quality
and artification of a milieu, and through this, the possibility of experiencing
artistic qualities. I inquire into the
manner in which a milieu is artified and the factors that affect the artistic
quality of a milieu where empowering possibilities for aesthetic experiences
2. What kinds
of issues are involved in the artification of institutional living?
general demand of a social policy for homelike surroundings in institutional
living adds to the topicality of artification as a subject of discussion. Art works are brought in to add to the
comfort and stimulation of the inhabitants, in other words, to lessen the
institutional aura. It is thought that art can not only increase stimulation
but also the home-like atmosphere, so
that the general goal of well-being can be realized.
The meaning of home and homeyness has, however, hardly been studied.
We do not know much about what “home” signifies to people and how this
signification occurs. Hence, the
relationship between artification and homeyness has not been examined in
detail; rather, artification is simply assumed to improve the desired homely
quality of a milieu. This is not
necessarily so. Particularly when we
think of contemporary art works, it cannot in the least be assumed that their
presence would improve homeyness, and a
homelike feeling would ensue. On the
other hand, it is possible that there are only few or no art works in homes, so
why would we even think that art would be linked to homeyness?
Yet, in an institutional habitat, an effort is made to specifically use art as
a means of reaching the much-spoken goal of homeyness.
the whole, it seems that when artifying the institutional environment, most
attention is directed towards the objective of bringing art and art objects
onto the premises rather than thinking about what type of art would be suitable
for the inhabitants and staff at a particular time. The question also remains of who should make
the decision about the acquisition and placement of art.
In Sweden, an artist has been hired to
bring art to elderly care centers. Nevertheless, the question of how artification should
be realized in such a milieu has still not been sufficiently examined. Who, at any particular time, is permitted to
have an impact and for what reason?
3. A good environment
Finnish architect Tuomo Siitonen has divided institutional living into a
hierarchy with three privacy levels.
One problem he found in the movement between the different rooms was that the
transition from privacy to non-privacy was too direct. From an area of privacy one steps directly
into public spaces, usually from one’s own intimate room out to the public
corridor. Decisions about the quality of
different rooms should vary according to the degree of privacy a room should
maintain. Semi-public and public spaces
cannot be reserved for anyone’s personal matters, be they those of the
inhabitants or the staff. Semi-public
areas have design potential in that they can provide forms of companionship and
support different social roles.
contrast with an artistically interesting and rich milieu, we can imagine a
stripped or unadorned space, such as an empty lobby, a hall, or even a prison
In outdoor spaces, such a milieu could be a bare or shabby area. It could also be anonymous, no one’s space,
such as a hotel room.
In the case of a prison cell, the milieu can be understood as part of the
punishment, which, for that reason, would not be considered deserving of being
pleasant or cozy. It is stripped of
almost everything and has only basic furniture, such as a bed, table, and
chair, or sometimes only a mattress.
the antithesis of homelike features demonstrates my belief that the interior
design of institutional residences actually shows the same trend and general
practice. The simpler the milieu, the
more the living conditions seem to be severe or institutional, the antithesis
of homelike. Hence, hardly any object in
the physical environment would attract the resident; the personal connection is
not there. The elements that could
possibly add warmth were chosen by someone other than the inhabitants. We may ask why choices are made in this
when people can help create their own living milieu it becomes a more pleasant
place. During the last few years,
participatory design and co-design have become a trend in design and design
research. In place of ‘user-centered
design,’ the term ‘co-design’ is more commonly used today, so that we no longer
think of only planning and designing for
people but with people. However, the practice of co-design does not
seem to be adopted when elderly care centers are designed. It is possible that the personnel or other decision-makers,
such as civil servants at the municipal level and managers of care centers, do
not have the instruments or training to carry out such a new type of approach,
or perhaps they may think of it will increase the cost.
the institutional milieu is examined from the point of view of the inhabitants,
staff, and other stakeholders, the situation does not appear so black-and-white. The diversity of interests creates situations
that are difficult to solve and circumstances in which many objectives collide. Is there any way to assume that a
satisfactory situation can be found for all? This question has not been raised in public
discussions and research, since it seems that problems with practical and
everyday activities and basic care swallow all the resources.
the point of view, first of functioning, and then of well-being, the
satisfaction of personnel is significant.
Spaces that have been planned only for staff, such as offices and meeting
and dressing rooms, belong closely to the conditions of institutional living. (See illus. 1, below.) The division between
the residents’ rooms and other areas often stamps its mark on the entire milieu. Often the main entrance is defined by the institution’s
personnel and service organization and their need for public information. That is why the entrance and related
furnishings greatly influence the “degree of institutionality.” In other words,
does one step into the familiar warmth of something homey or into an area
arranged according to the public image of some other party? The artistic
quality of the entryway and the hallways to the rooms can, of course, also be
evaluated in modern apartment buildings.
These, however, do not have the clear message of an institutional
residence, which often has signs that read Office, Administration,
Appointments, Opening Hours, Week’s Menu, Exercise Hours, Emergency Numbers,
and like signs indicating institutional functions immediately inside the outer
1. An office and space designed for
staff behind a glass window in an elderly care facility.
has shown that routine becomes imbedded in institutions and stiffens practices,
which are then difficult to change.
Such routines lessen the homeyness of the place and do not help maintain work
efficiency. Instead they create the need
to hurry. They affect the nature of the
activity and the milieu. The programs
announced from week to week have the same set schedules, furniture is arranged
to make cleaning easier, the number of pieces is reduced, and the like. All sorts of things, such as tablecloths,
chests, baskets, and magazine racks are taken out and the milieu becomes
plainer. On the other hand, cleaning and
treatment equipment is left in the halls and in the shared washrooms. We can assume that the routines tied to the
staff, their schedules, and tasks obstruct artification in a place where it
would be welcomed and could affect well-being.
the very beginning, attaining well-being and implementing artification include
a problem that originates from the different viewpoints, approaches, and
demands in the design of space, furniture, and the practices of institutional
living. Nevertheless, the living areas
of institutions always seem to be artified in some manner. The more important question is how
artification formed; in other words, whose task is it to artify the milieu? Therefore,
I regard artification as a process, although it sometimes happens on an
unconscious level. Artification happens
when one artifies.
4. The problem
of artification in design and architecture
relationship between art and design has been a major controversial topic
throughout design history.
It has intermittently divided opinions
into two opposites, particularly since the beginning of modernism. One includes art in the planning and form-giving
process of design; the other ignores art.
Often this complicated and partly ideological question has been ignored
in professional discussions of design, which instead tend to focus on the aesthetics of design.
It follows that the outcome of
professional design is always assumed to include aesthetic evaluation but not
artistic evaluation. That is, design is
always seen as successful when judged to be elegant, or as a failure when
considered awkward and unsuitable.
focuses on products and arrangements with qualities that generate experiences,
such as meaningfulness and the feeling of beauty. The outcome of design is not, however, always
an art work. Differences of opinion
raise the question of whether such products and arrangements even have artistic
qualities. If they are considered to
have such qualities, what kind are they and how are they constituted? In the
study of artification, the relationship between art and design must be clarified. One way to proceed is to divide the
examination into two parts. The first
part regards art works that have been brought into a space. The second looks at milieus and the artistic
qualities of products or, more precisely, at the relationship between people
and products, in which the latter are seen to function as a vehicle of artistic
quality. The first seems easy to
characterize in practice, even though there could be many different opinions
about the quality of the works. However,
this in itself can complicate the question of the possible artistic qualities
of the actual care work, for example, when singing or dancing is included in a
interesting examples of the debate on whether design products include artistic
qualities can be found in design and architecture history. Western modernism, which has dominated the
field for more than a hundred years, does not provide an unambiguous answer,
even though one might think that it would.
Modernism in design and architecture was first affected by the technological
development in industrial production, which also defined design ideals to a
great extent. The so-called artistic
influences were omitted, as the modernism pioneer Adolf Loos proposed at the
beginning of the last century.
Machine production was admired and its ideals of form were transferred to
product design. In the new cultural
condition it was thought that the aesthetics of design and architecture were constituted
differently and did not follow the legacy of art. The same kind of thinking was represented by
some Russian avant-garde artists, such as Vladimir Tatlin. However, a modernist designer could bring art
works into a plain space, as Le Corbusier did in his well-known l’Ésprit Nouveau pavilion in 1925.
the other hand, the viewpoint of the De Stijl movement, which held that a
successful form has a practical and functional value together with being a work
of art in space, also belongs to the
modernism tradition. Piet Mondrian went
as far as to propose a new form of painting, his Neoplasticism works, as a
starting point for designing an interior:
a painting continues and unfolds in space.
idea of disconnecting art from design was continued in Germany after the Second
World War in the famous Ulm School of Design that reformed education in
industrial design and its professional image. Even today the dichotomy and the discussion
on design’s relation to art occupy the design world and continue in places like
education and the press. One extreme
anchors design to the legacy of art , while the other differentiates itself
from it. In general, modernism has
indeed cut off references and reduced form and, as earlier mentioned, has even
denied this kind of legacy in design.
the study of artification, there is a need to go deeper into this problem. I propose that artistic quality can be
examined in the design of milieus, and that the legacy of art can be used to
advantage. It is not enough to admit
that various spaces evoke aesthetic experiences. Instead, particularly with respect to design,
we could point out the qualities that influence these experiences in some way
or another. In addition, we should be
able to consider whether at least some characteristics could be called artistic
qualities. Thus, we could speak of “artistic
qualities” that can be realized more or less successfully when designing a
milieu. The use of the term, of course,
refers to the legacy of art, but would this do any harm? Possibly it would be
the contrary: the use of the term could
enrich and concretize design options and open up possibilities in design that
would make good use of tradition even better than before.
Take minimalism, for example, a form ideal of modernism sometimes represented in art, architecture,
and design. Its objectives,
particularly its artistic ones, are implemented as carefully reduced forms and
the sophisticated selection and combination of materials, and in proportions,
which are given the primary role in evaluating the degree of artistic success. It does not take a stand against
technological development. Minimalism
may completely reject references to earlier Western traditions in painting and
sculpture and attempt to create new bases for expression.
It sets its own perceivable specific artistic goals. In my opinion, the characteristics of
minimalism could well be considered when designing some institutional living
spaces. Then design and architecture,
too, would have the artistic qualities of
material combinations, proportions, scale, and finish. We would have “artistic” spaces and products consciously
designed in a minimalistic style. In comparison, nowadays the plain milieu created
for institutional living is often a grotesque contrast to minimalism ideals. As we have seen, the tendency to reduce a
milieu does not lead to minimalism, which needs careful design in the use of materials,
color scheme, space, and so on.
for millions of elderly people in care centers
the end of 2009 in Finland, 42,802 persons were living in elderly care centers,
either nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. This figure was approximately four percent greater
than the previous year.
It is predicted that by 2030 the total
will increase to 100,000 persons. In the
UK, the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15% in
1984 to 16% in 2009, an increase of 1.7 million people over 25 years. In the United States, the elderly population
will more than double between now and the year 2050 to 80 million.
In Finland, only one in every 10 elderly
care centers meets the quality recommendations for good care, which consider
the staff, food, space, and so on.
Although physically or mentally
challenged persons, those needing a foster home, children taken into custody,
and persons recovering from chemical abuse also fall into the category of
persons living in institutional facilities, for different periods of time, I
have limited my discussion to a particular resident group: the elderly and their habitat. However, it is likely that several of the
same features can be found in many other types of institutional living
research has questioned the tendency to group people. For example, those over 65 years of age are
called the elderly, retirees, and the like.
They are still individuals, with
different types of backgrounds, and they should be understood and treated as
such. However, the starting points for
the development of “assisted-living and institutional care”
have been the proportional growth of this age group and the resulting load on
the national economy. The topic is
politically current. In many countries,
experts in the care of the elderly agree that, in the future, the elderly will
live in care centers or assisted-living facilities with special public services. Therefore, various concepts of care centers
have been developed. Among their
objectives are a good quality of life, the right to self-determination, and,
accordingly, self-reliant performance, safety, homeyness, satisfaction, respect
for privacy, and private rooms with hygienic facilities. Visions and strategies
concerning “service in institutional care” repeat these general objectives, but
although guidelines have been written, there has been very little research done
on the actual quality of the habitats.
recent Swedish study stressed self-reliant performance as the most important
aspect for the quality of life of the elderly. This issue was reported to be related to residency, for which one of the most
important design criteria was then the support of self-reliant performance. However, this finding has lately come under
scrutiny. Do activities possibly pertain
more to social function among the elderly? Would it not be better to foster
communality and mutual support rather than emphasize self-reliant performance?
This stance would affect the layout and furnishings of elderly care centers in
homeyness is a dominant objective in many countries, it is interesting to look
at how research results shed light on what it can mean, how it can be
manifested, and especially how it can affect artification. Currently, there is a call for abandoning the
term ‘institution.’ The same suggestion had already been made in Finland in the
Siitonen critically stated that the use
of the term ’homey’ actually refers to the obscure gap between institutional
living and the home. When we cannot use
the word ’home,’ we simply use the looser ‘homelike.’ He therefore recommended that
an analysis of the environment be approached from the privacy and communality
points of view, which architecture can affect.
In Sweden, the architect Jonas E. Andersson has studied domesticity and a
homelike feeling. The capability of architecture,
particularly as Baukunst, to evoke
feelings is the starting point of his research.
Andersson analyzed milieus built as institutional living of the elderly. His example showed pictures and textile art
on the wall but he did not discuss their possible role. According to his results, the elderly
particularly want to take a painting, in other words an art work, with them
when they move into an institution. Eva
Lundgren claimed, in turn, that homeyness is not treated with the residents in
mind; it is created by the staff.
It can be characterized as
over-decorated and “cheap.” Actually, in Lundgren’s opinion, homelike seems to
be a cosmetic, ideological make-up.
When we want to retain old things in the
institutional milieu because they carry memories, we can ask whose memories
they should be, particularly when the items were not the choice of the
an elderly group was asked about what affects homeyness, no topics related to
art were mentioned at all.
A bookshelf was listed if actual books
could be placed in it. Although the
responses were concrete, they did not indicate how the aim of homeyness
could be obtained and consequently increase well-being. The response material especially dealt with
basic physical needs and demands. The
study did not look into the participants’ experiences or significant issues
that point out preferences and feelings.
The observational part of the study showed that silence and the lack of
self-realization were dominant in elderly care centers.
(See illus. 2, below.)
2. Elderly care centers often have
quiescent arrangements comprised of art works, decorative objects, plants, and
furniture. One can wonder whose
conception of artifying the milieu they express—the personnel’s and
instructions, and guidelines generally present minimum requirements. In addition to homeyness, tranquility,
lightness, and safety are often listed. Cultural
and other inspiring activities are also briefly mentioned. Guidelines suggest solutions to aid exercise
and modifications of social areas for which art works and items such as
bulletin boards and aquariums are noted.
Art is also mentioned in conjunction
with the personal and private areas of the inhabitants. All in all, the guidelines project an
idealistic vision for care in which everyday problems are not apparent. It is not surprising that information on the
design and care of the areas seems to be abundant, so that general guidelines
for design are easily found. However,
according to Mirja Kälviäinen, the guidelines are too general, hence,
ambiguous; therefore their application can vary greatly according to the
preference of decision makers.
In addition, they examine different key issues one by one but do not consider
their synergy and interaction to reveal possible contraindicators. In American and British guidelines, for
example, a lifestyle rather than demands for efficient care is sometimes
presented as a basis for the design.
7. Art brought
into an area
in the plain milieu of institutions, art can generally be found. Usually we see original art works or copies,
such as paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, and posters. In addition, amateur works of the residents
themselves can be found that some people would classify as art works, since they
have been produced, for example, in art workshops. The persons who produce these works might
also perceive these types of creations as art.
Rather than discussing the quality of the art, let me instead briefly
describe a characteristic of the established practice in institutional living,
as seen in research visits and documented in photographs taken by researchers.
addition to art, decorations are often found nearby that are primarily meant to
adorn rather than add substance and broaden references to life and the world,
as art does. However, it is not always
possible to classify decoration and art so simply because both can refer to familiar
or famous figures, for example, that possibly connote the past, natural
phenomena, or a distant culture. Ornaments,
too, can connote an earlier period that is thus remembered. On the other hand, thanks to structure and
color, art works can decorate an area as well as invigorate it in a more deeply
touching way. An art work can also be
experienced primarily as decoration, when its references and contextual links
are not known, but still be thought of as pleasant or harmonious and skillful
in technique. The making of a
decoration, however, is far more easily recognized as an imitative production and
cheap, in both material and style. The
problem of quality in decoration and ornament has received much attention in
design history since the industrial revolution in the 1800s, when mechanization
and design education produced a need to improve the quality of the product
environment. It is also associated with
the kitsch tradition in Western
design, from which modernism withdrew. On
the other hand, art can be ungainly, banal, or kitsch-like. In elderly care
centers, as stated earlier, it is not always easy to categorically
differentiate between what is considered decorative and what is considered
the common areas, we usually find items on display that represent the
particular time of the year or holidays, with those used for holidays
surprisingly like the arrangements used in kindergartens. (See illus. 3, below.)
A table decorated for Easter in a Finnish elderly care center in 2009.
addition, for warmth and comfort we usually see plants, often artificial
flowers, and textiles such as tablecloths, pillows, and curtains that are not
necessarily considered art works, but which can reveal some artistic quality. Other similar products that can be
experienced as beautiful or meaningful are utility items, such as vases,
pitchers, and tools, in addition to objects that allude to local history,
religion, or different cultures.
the art and decoration found on walls in elderly care centers are other kinds
of items that have nearly the same visual impact, such as a bulletin board, a
large clock, or a fire extinguisher. The variety of items and, in many cases,
their banalities differentiate between the milieu of an institutional residence
and a home. When considered more
specifically, however, such a general description is not sufficient, since many
homes have some diversity and banality of the same kind. Therefore, from what I can see, institutionality
becomes apparent from other characteristics that are requirements of the care
organization but are associated with the need for cleanliness, order, and
efficiency. It is apparent that such objects
typically belong to the staff and care organization.
They are on display because of the demands of the work involved and the need to
be prepared in case of emergencies. In
summary, I would say that the milieu of institutional living is described by
the calculated randomness that is formed in this way by the selected art
works, decorative objects, and organizational materials, in combination with
the emphasis on cleanliness. (See illus. 4 and illus.
5, below.) It is particularly interesting, from the point of view of
artification, to look at how this complex milieu is formed, as well as how it
is modified from time to time. Artification
Illustrations 4 and 5.
The diversity and randomness of the everyday environment of two elderly
care centers in which art, decoration, various materials, and furnishings are mixed-and-made
compositions in which the residents or all of the staff do not necessarily have
8. The artistic
qualities of the space and its furnishings
Once one is acquainted with the available literature
and documents from visits, there is good reason to ask why artification does
not succeed. Why does artifying so often
remain insufficient? There could very well have been some good attempts in the
design that, for some reason, did not work or were realized only to some extent. It could also be that the personnel,
management, or even the residents do not pay enough attention to their
surroundings, and possibly get used to the deficiencies or rely on the
principle of permanency. The earlier-mentioned
randomness in the acquisition and placement of items supports this assumption. Sometimes a product acquired and placed for a
good reason simply remains in place, even though no one remembers its
background and significance. As time
passes, other props and new paraphernalia are added. For this reason, items brought into common
areas and the planned artistic quality of an area demand special attention and
continual consideration about how they can be realized and what they should
artists have paid attention to the reduced milieu of care environments and made
it their goal to produce special works for patients’ rooms, for example. This
practice has possibly led to an entirely new artistic genre and indeed may
improve the milieu. So far, however, it seems that such art projects have remained rare single
to the modernist tradition, unambiguousness is a good design quality, as is
precise measurements in order to achieve a well-proportioned whole. One difficult question in the planning of
institutional living concerns the need to control
the physical environment so that the ideal of harmony is met. (See illus.
6, below.) But when is the specific randomness that belongs to everyday
life and homeyness acceptable in the shared areas of an elderly care center? Today, the proportion of control is more often
found in many places where tidiness and a high level of hygiene seem to play
the primary role. When the details in an
interior are kept tightly organized, the milieu does not look inviting; instead
our relationship to it becomes tense.
Randomness in the everyday environment of an elderly care center. A place or setting has no design for
randomness, which is apparent irrespective of the style of the interior. Therefore, a room easily looks disorderly and
should be cleaned up. The furnishings
are not flexible in this sense whether the style in question be Rococo,
Biedermeier, or Modernism.
9. The artification
the artification of institutional living, more is needed than simply putting
emphases on the design and maintenance of the product environment, since this
type of attitude leads to phenomena such as randomness, control, and permanence. These three qualities are quite different,
but seem to affect one another in a cumulative manner. Randomness or the casual feature of homeyness
seems to generate control, the need to clean up, which, in turn, reinforces
permanence. The latter means that it is
difficult to change the composition of items because doing so risks the order
of things and lessens control. Therefore,
it would be advisable to create a varying milieu in the first place, as a
composition that needs to be changed and does vary. Residents, staff, and the organization are
continuously changing anyway.
the needed general guidelines do not guarantee that the environment will have a
good artistic quality, as we have seen. On
the contrary, artification would probably be more successfully advanced if art
produced in association with living and the artistic qualities of the milieu
were understood as varying and as part of everyday activities for support and
my opinion, artification should be emphasized as a process. The artification process
could be integrated into the practices and planning of institutional living
facilities in order to avoid situations in which art works and artistic
qualities are thought of as extras to an existing conception of the environment
and activity, as their special complements.
In addition, new guidelines are probably needed to illustrate best
practices that have succeeded in producing well-being.
Possibly more important, warning examples
are needed to demonstrate the kind of artification that seems to reduce
well-being. The living and care
environment can be examined as a continual process in which the different
stakeholders actively participate. Living
and care practices could include means for continually weighing and varying
artistic qualities. Areas and
furnishings can then be considered to be changeable and flexible, with no
attempt at creating a final or optimal arrangement. Instead, change, when
possible, may require a different type of furnishings and a discussion of their
design, characteristics, and references.
The quality of architecture, of course, has great significance regarding
how to shape the building, but probably the help of designers would be needed
from time to time, when artification is integrated into everyday activity and
when the product environment is conceived as a process. Unless we conceive of artification as a
process, the residents, staff, and visitors quickly become “blind” or slowly
begin to underestimate the effect of the details in the environment, even
though small changes and modifications can produce inspiring results.
is considered to apply broadly to the different sections of society, such as
working life, parenting, education, holidays, and the like. Artification extends into many areas in which
the same type of critique presented in this article may apply. By and large, the significance of the
components in the built environment and artification can be given far more
attention by considering research results.
Vihma is Professor of Design Semiotics at the Aalto University School of Art
and Design, Helsinki, Finland. Among her
publications are Products as
Representations. A semiotic and
aesthetic study of design products (1995) and Design Semiotics in Use (2010).
She also lectures and has published books and papers on Western design
Published on April 5, 2012.
 Numerous projects attempt to promote the art and
well-being approach, in Finland, for example, the international Art in Hospital
project http://www.thl.fi/fi_FI/web/fi/tutkimus/hankkeet/taiku (in Finnish),
The book by Marjatta Bardy, Riikka Haapalainen, and
Merja Isotalo (eds.), Taide ja elämä
[Art and Life] (Helsinki: Like, 2007)
provides background articles and presents case studies of how art and artists’
methods have been adapted for social agencies, care centers, schools,
workplaces, and public art projects in suburbs.
This book is the first to compile an account of the use of art in
Finland. See also http://www.thl.fi/fi_FI/web/fi/tutkimus/hankkeet/taiku/toimintaohjelma/toimijat/tk-verkosto
(in Finnish), accessed 31.8.2011.
Liikanen, Taiteesta ja kulttuurista
hyvinvointia–ehdotus toimintaohjelmaksi 2010−2014 [Art and Culture for Well-being −proposal for an action programme 2010-2014] (Helsinki: Ministry of Education, 2010:9) pp. 64-65; Annika Eklund and Nina Svedberg, Rummets betydelse för patientens
välbefinnande och tillfrisknande [The
signification of the room for the well-being of a patient] (MA Thesis,
Högskolan i Borås, 2007:58).
 With the word ‘artification’ I am emphasizing
people’s active grasp and design. I do
not necessarily ponder the question of whether the milieu is artified as a
result of general activity without any attention paid to its cause and reason.
 I use the word ‘milieu’ with a broader significance
than ”built environment.” The term ‘milieu’ emphasizes the atmosphere
and mood, proportions, and other experiencing; it broadens the concrete nature
of the physical environment.
 CoWell (Constructing Well-being−organization, design,
and management in elderly care contexts) is a research project funded by the
Academy of Finland (2009-2012). It is
gathering material from Finland, other Nordic countries, some other European
countries, the United States, and Japan.
My material is limited to industrialized Western situations. The topic would also be an extremely
interesting target of research on a broader international basis. https://www.uef.fi/stj/hyvrava (Homepage of CoWell project, in Finnish), accessed
Heini Lehtoranta, Minna-Liisa Luoma and Seija Muurinen (eds.), Ikäihmisten laitoshoidon laadun kehittämishanke [The development project for the quality of
institutional care for older people] (Helsinki: National Institute for Health and Welfare,
2007), pp. 8, 28-29. In the report, the
founding concept is “quality of life,”
See also Raija Lundahl, Sinikka Hakonen and Asta Suomi, ”Taide ja kulttuuri—innovaatioita
seniori- ja vanhustyöhön” [”Art and Culture—innovations in senior and elderly
care”] in Vanhuus ja sosiaalityö. Sosiaalityö avuttomuuden ja toimijuuden
välissä, eds. Marjatta Seppänen,
Antti Karisto and Teppo Kröger (Jyväskylä:
PS-Kustannus, Jyväskylä, 2007), pp. 253-269. They
conceived of art as a tool for the social milieu.
 It is true that other means than art are used to
soften the severe mood of an institution, such as textiles and color coding,
decoration and even scents. See also Hyvinvointi 2015 -ohjelma [Welfare 2015 program [Long-term objectives
for social services] (Helsinki: Ministry
of Social Affairs and Health, 2007:3), pp.11 and 46.
Anni Vilkko, ”Ikääntyminen, muistot ja koti” [”Getting Old, Memories, and the Home”]
in Vanhuus kaupungissa, ed. Antti
Karisto (Helsinki: WSOY, 1997), pp. 168-183;
ref. on p. 171.
 Whether or not artification is included in the home
and homelike atmosphere is difficult to prove.
It is pertinent for this article that institutional living always seems
to include artification that focuses especially on the set goals of well-being
 To a lesser degree, attention is directed to art
works or to art that may belong to care work.
 In this article, I am referring to public or
semi-public areas. It is appropriate for
the residents to decorate and furnish their own rooms according to their own
Tuomo Siitonen, ”Porstuakamarista palvelutaloon. Ikäihmisten asuntoja ja asuttamista” [”From
Porch to Care Center”], in Vanhuus
kaupungissa, ed. Antti Karisto
(Helsinki: WSOY, 1997), pp. 125-150, ref. on p. 147. For example, the Wilhelmina Elderly Care
Center 1994 by Siitonen in Helsinki is designed hierarchically in this way.
Erving Goffmann, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental
Patients and Other Inmates (New York:
Anchor Books, 1961).
 By anonymous, I mean the rooms of the hotel serve
many different people so that an attempt
is made in planning to use approved general design solutions that are suitable
for a broad culture. Even though the
hotel can be designed in its own individual style, the rooms are generally
impersonal and similar in different countries.
Today, the hotel as a concept of institutional living is one of the predetermined
 Today, however, in a photograph accompanying a
newspaper article in Finland, for example,
prisoners can bring books, a radio, and pictures into their cells. The windows have curtains, and the like. They have been able to personalize their space
to some extent. Living in cell-like
rooms can, of course, be a person’s choice and the environment deliberately
institutional, such as in monasteries. The
asceticism of the space can then be experienced as aesthetically valuable. This type of choice and living does not
however belong to the spaces being examined in this article.
 Jonas E. Andersson,
Rum för äldre [Room for Elderly People] (Ph.D.
diss., Kungliga tekniska högskolan i Stockholm, 2005:7). Also
Lehtoranta and others, p. 30 in Part II.
 The border between design and architecture is fuzzy
so that in this article I use the term ‘design’ more often than ‘architecture,’
even though interior and fixture solutions can possibly be included in the
architect’s sphere, as in many total works of art.
As an exception, I can mention Ossi Naukkarinen,
“Muotoilun estetiikka ja muotoiltu Suomi” [”Design aesthetics and Finnish
design”] in Suomalainen muotoilu, eds. Susann
Vihma and others (Helsinki: WSOY, 2009),
 See e.g. ulmer modelle― modelle nach ulm/hochschule
für gestaltung Ulm 1953-1968 [The publication on the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of the founding of the Ulm School of Design 1953-1968] (Ulm: Ulmer
Museum/HfG Archiv and Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2003).
 Tate Modern, Donald
Judd (London: Tate Modern, 2004). Catalogue and exhibition 5.2.-25.4.2004. See also Bruce Glaser, “Questions to Stella
and Judd,” Art News (September 1966);
reprint. ed. Ellen H. Johnson, American Artists on Art from 1940 to 1980
(New York: Harper & Row Publishers,
1982), pp. 113-120.
(National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health), Vanhusten ympärivuorokautisen
sosiaalihuollon palvelut. Toimintayksiköihin
tehdyn kyselyn tulokset ja valvonnan jatkotoimenpiteet [Social
round-the-clock services for elderly people] (Helsinki: Valvira
2010:3), p.16. http://www.valvira.fi/files/Vanhusten_sosiaalihuollon_palvelut.pdf, accessed 31.8.2011.
Helky Koskela, Koti vai kasarmi? Vanhusten ajatuksia
home or a barrack? Thoughts of elderly people about care centers] (Lic.thesis, University of Jyväskylä, 2004). Society in Finland functions and is built, however, so that people are placed in specifically
defined groups in institutional care, and services are planned for them
 Ministry of
Social Affairs and Health, Ikäihmisten
hoitoa ja palvelua koskeva laatusuositus [Recommendations for the quality of care and services for the elderly]
(Helsinki: 2001:4), ref. on p. 10. The primary goal is to keep people in their
homes. The recommendations include a
follow-up system and quality indicators that especially concern personnel. There are no specific recommendations for the
quality of spaces; instead there is one general statement. Later in the Ministry’s report, Tie hyvään vanhuuteen. Vanhusten hoidon ja palvelujen linjat
vuoteen 2015 [The Road to Good Ageing: Policy
for the Care and Service of the Elderly by 2015] (Helsinki:
2007:8) objectives were
added for using new technology in the production of service. The possibility for people to realize their
own lifestyle, such as enjoying their own hobbies and cultural services, affects
well-being, ref. on p. 15.
 Maria Haak
and others, “Home as a signification of independence and autonomy: Experiences among very old Swedish people,” Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Vol. 14, No. 1 (2007), pp. 16-24. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/11038120601024929, accessed on 31.8.2011. See
also the recommendations of other countries, such as the British Care Homes
for Older People: National
Minimum Standards and The Care Homes
Regulations 2001 (London: The Stationary Office, 2003). The value of self-sufficiency seemed to vary
depending on the culture, when people were asked about their experiences
concerning well-being. See also Derrick
Wirtz, Chi-yue Chiu, Ed Diener and Shigehiro Oishi, “What Constitutes a Good
Life? Cultural Differences in the Role of Positive and Negative Affect in
Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of
Personality 77:4 (2009), 1167-1195.
Andersson, pp. 115 and 126.
 Eva Lundgren, “Homelike Housing for Elderly
People−Materialized Ideology,” Housing,
Theory and Society 17 (2000), 109-120.
 Lundgren, 116.
Decorative antique objects and bric-a-brac may not lead to a more
homelike environment. Decorative objects
in public spaces of geriatric facilities were chosen by non-residents to
reflect an idealized past rather than an experienced past.
 Erlend Bleken, Hjemme
Bra – Borte Best? Fysisk bomiljø for personer med demens i heldøgns
pleie [East or West, home is
best?](MA thesis, Kunsthøgskolen i
Bergen, 2011) has listed activities that increase well-being in
elderly care centers. The list contains
artistic activity such as painting and making music, along with cooking,
exercising, contact with pets, and the like.
 Mirja Kälviäinen and others, “Kansei Search for
Elderly Care Home Design Guidelines,” paper presented at KEER2010 (International Conference on Kansei Engineering and
Emotion Research), Paris, 2010. http://www.keer2010.eu/, accessed 1.9.2011.
 CoWell. Research
visits have been made and documented in different parts of Finland, as well as
in Denmark and Sweden in 2010. In
addition, the project also has experts from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and
England contributing with their own material.
 Fire extinguishers, medical gloves, emergency exit
signs, and the like. In addition, the
choice of lighting fixture design often underlines institutionality,
emphasizing bright well-lighted rooms.
 I thank my colleagues in the CoWell project Sari
Rissanen, Mirja Kälviäinen, Hannele Komu, Anneli Hujala, and Hugh Miller for
collecting and sharing material. The photographs
were taken by the researchers.