Rethinking Surgery

23rd October 2014
   The Street // Central Saint Martins // The Street


The Theatre of Operations – an opportunity for interdisciplinary design

The operating theatre is a place that (hopefully) we seldom experience with our eyes open – unless we happen to be a doctor. It is a complex arena where teamwork, technology and environment are harnessed for the well-being of the patient. But could it be changed or improved?  Could we, as a community of designers and artists with  a unique perspective on life, provide a different perspective/benefit to the practices of surgery.

On the 23rd of October Professor Rob Kesseler, Chair of Arts, Design & Science hosted an immersive event in collaboration with Roger Kneebone Professor of Surgical Education in the Department of Surgery & Cancer at Imperial College London, at which a pop up operating theatre was set up in the Street  at CSM to demonstrate simulated operations using different methods of surgery.

Participating students became members of teams lead by real-life members of the operating theatre in which each individual viewed the proceedings through the eyes of newness and the lens of their own specialism. A forensic array of specialized implements was laid to explore their handling characteristics and samples of fabrics used in gowns and dressings were analyzed for functional viability. Following the operation, surgeons and students met again to deconstruct the operation through the lens of their own disciplines to explore ways in which their own expertise might contribute to and highlight areas for improvement. Technological advances have radically changed the nature of what happens in operating theatres and co-design offers opportunities for artists and designers to share ideas and approaches across disciplines to sustain and improve developments.

“Having worked for a plastic surgeon for three years before attending CSM, I was really fascinated by the inner workings of a UK operating theatre and how Roger Kneebone’s team approached gaining a fresh perspective on their working process.”
James Winston. BA Product Design

As a result of the experience, James Winston was able to observe a live amputation as part of his research into the redesign of a prosthetic limb. Following graduation he was awarded SEED funding from the University Creative Employment unit.

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