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A New Model for Vera Whole Health

For their client Vera Whole Health, Ankrom Moisan Architects searched for well-designed furnishings to deliver on the practical needs of public spaces in Healthcare applications. The solutions needed to be contemporary, a strong value, scalable as Vera grew and provide a range of options for different settings. Memo Furniture, a design minded start-up with significant experience in Healthcare, was looking for a customer with whom they could collaborate to solve unmet needs and to inform new product development.

Some relationships were meant to be.

Vera created an innovative health model to address the whole person and the environment in which that person lives and works – biologically, psychologically and socially. This is made possible through time-rich provider visits, dedicated clinical teams, and integrated health coaches all working together to implement personalized care plans for each patient. Their model is delivered via employer-based onsite primary care with embedded health coaching. Vera’s customers include Virginia Mason Hospital System, the City of Kirkland, Hoffman Construction, Seattle Children’s Hospital and other mid and large-size employers across a range of industries.

A prototyping workshop at Memo Studio

Our work together is a case study of design-led co-development that blends customer needs with design thinking in a collaborative and productive process.

Memo Studio was briefed on the objectives, priorities, preferences, and constraints of Vera Whole Health and Ankrom Moisan’s vision for their space. We generated drawings, imagery, and renderings that best addressed these objectives and provided our point of view on design for manufacturing and the practical realities of creating quality furnishings for public spaces. Memo Studio then built full scale plywood and foam core mock-ups in our Seattle prototype studio for the architect and client to explore, test and provide feedback. The mock-ups set the stage for engagement and provided us learning, insight, and fresh ideas from a broad range of stakeholder including clinicians, administrators and designers.

After a period of make-do-build iterative cycles, the team closed on design with confidence and a tremendous sense of partnership. The full-scale testing proved invaluable. It resulted in design changes that improved functional performance, increased operational efficiency, and delivered on the look, feel, and message envisioned for the project.

“It’s essential that our clinic design provides an environment and patient experience to embody the Vera Whole Health approach that empowers patients to improve their health. The design from Memo reflects our unique point of view. The tone is modern, streamlined and scalable to help us grow. The Prose and Array collections provide warmth, beauty and comfort in our onsite clinics.”

– Erin Usher, Director Facilities and Supply Chain, Vera Whole Health

The design process with Memo, and the results in situ (right)

“The main draw for AMA to introduce Vera to Memo was that we were looking for a modular casework solution that could be customized to meet Vera’s unique needs. Most other modular casework companies do not allow for customization like Memo does. Many of the other modular casework options have a very clinical look to them. AMA and Vera were both excited about the opportunity to customize the modular casework to create their own unique standards. In addition, the ability to offer a more refined and hospitality-like aesthetic to the casework made Memo stand out from other manufacturers. Initially, AMA and Vera were only considering Memo for the modular casework, but when offered the opportunity to custom design other ancillary furnishings, Memo became the standard for all Vera furnishings (except task chairs and provider desks).”

– Marcy Naismith, Principal, Ankrom Moisan Architects, Inc.

Shortly after the prototypes were explored and revised the work became an order, the order became a production run, and the production product was deployed to its first installation. In-situ, Moisan and Memo’s work came to life first in a Vera clinic in Portland, Oregon. Other sites have followed, and the hard work of design and production synthesis was rewarded when the design vision was realized and in use with a range of satisfied Vera customers. We’re grateful for the partnership with Vera.

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