Cellule is a collaborative design studio specialized in healthcare products and services. Bringing together a small multidisciplinary team (product design, engineering, set design, lighting, visual art), we help start-ups, academics and clinicians to realise their ground breaking ideas.
‘Cellule’ in French is a small autonomous unit which contain the basic information to create complexity. Our approach is based on collaboration between various practices, necessary to address challenges and questions that concerns us all.
We are small. By being agile and working horizontally we wish to bring quickly ideas into working prototypes and testable solutions, engaging experts as well as the wider public. Ongoing partnership and foreseeing collaboration involve: Imperial College London, ICCESS centre for education in surgical simulation, Science Gallery London, KCL Imaging centre, Disrupt Disability.
How does a theatre designer
co-design with an engineer
a cardiology lab ?
One of the most exciting Cellule projects to launch in 2017 was SimCath, a portable simulation suite for interventional and non-interventional cardiology training developed in partnership with ICCESS/Imperial College London.
Cellule were commissioned as the design and production lead on the SimCath project in 2015, with a brief of developing a simulation unit which could be used to perform interactions between patients and clinicians during complex cardiology procedures. The project launched in September 2017 and is now being used for training and patient engagement workshops at Imperial College.
At the centre of our approach to the project was a focus on using design to capture the key aspects of cardiology practice that needed to be communicated during the simulation. Drawing on the Cellule team’s experience of set design, and approaching the operating ‘theatre’ as a stage, we spent time in the labs shadowing clinicians to visualise gestures and procedures; creating an environment which enabled us to mimic live surgery as closely as possible and passively curate behaviour within the space in order to replicate genuine reaction to ‘live’ events as closely as possible.
By working in an agile, multidisciplinary, design team we were able to cut through medical complexity and capture universal elements of surgery and interaction between different stakeholders; the medical team and patients.
In contrast to traditional simulation suites, SimCath is affordable and portable and can be transported easily from hospital to hospital, allowing teams to quickly set-up a full scale operation in numerous different contexts and configurations.
Has manufacturing anything to do
with creativity ?
Assistive technologies are one of Cellule designer Salomé Bazin’s main areas of interest, so when Bazin was approached by Disrupt Disability with the challenge of developing components for their modular wheelchair, it was the perfect opportunity.
Disrupt Disability are creating a modular wheelchair system to give users choice and control over both the form and the function of their wheelchairs.
Their concept centres around a ‘hub’ with standardised interfaces to which different ‘components’ can connect.
Cellule was commissioned with the task of designing and producing prototype components for the modular chair. A key element of the brief was that the components should be able to be interchanged for those made by other manufacturers. Additional complexity was provided by the extremely short timescales of the project - just one month to go from scoping the project to a functional prototype in production intent materials.
We took a creative approach to the project, researching the implications of hybrid manufacturing on the modular system. Creativity and flexibility became our motto as we worked in rapid design and research sprints to ensure the success of the project. Working closely with our network of manufacturers, we re-evaluated the parameters of the hub and explored potential for creativity in module design.
A key understanding of manufacturing processes enabled us to push the boundaries of the project and establish a product roadmap for Disrupt Disability. The resulting prototype proves the concept of their modular system and has enabled the Disrupt Disability team to develop a functional prototype for user testing and develop the overall system.
What could be the role of digital fabrication
for patient engagement?
What would you see if you held your heart in your hands?
Each and every one of us is unique, something we take for granted when we consider our external appearances. But what we don’t usually see is just how unique our own internal anatomies are too - or at least not until now.
Recent innovations in imaging and modelisation technologies are enabling researchers and doctors to ‘see’ their patient’s unique and individual hearts, and develop new and personalised treatments for people with heart failure. For the first time, we are able to use computer models to predict how effective different treatments will be, and new MRI techniques are being used to create 3D printed anatomically correct models of individual patient’s hearts for preoperative planning.
Cellule are working on Holding my heart, a project in collaboration with Dr Tanika Kelay and Dr Emmanuel Ako from Imperial College London to take this technology one step further. Using 3D printing as our starting point, Holding my Heart aims to develop an interactive interface which will simplify the process of 3D printing physical representations of different heart anatomies. This research will enable a public audience to engage with 3D modeling techniques and hold their heart in their hands.
By doing so, we want to explore what happens when we equip the public with a design mindset and the toolkit required to explore and understand their own anatomical development. Can innovation in modelisation technology enable principles of co-design in healthcare, where the end user has their own role to play in decision making?
Holding my Heart will form
part of the Spare Parts season at the Science Gallery in London, more info soon..
Imperial College London
ICCESS centre for education in surgical simulation
Science gallery London
KCL imaging centre, St Thomas Hospital
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital