The alternative birthing suite, designed by architect and designer Stiliyana Minkovska, is now being used at St Thomas’ Hospital
Words by Staff Writer
Photos by Felix Speller for Stiliyana Minkovska
Stiliyana Minkovska, one of this year’s emerging talent of the Design Museum’s annual Designers in Residence Showcase, has donated her Ultima Thule collection to St Thomas’ Hospital in London where the pieces will serve their intended purpose.
When Minkovska unveiled Ultima Thule earlier this year, inspired by her personal experience as a mother, designer and architect, she proposed an alternative birthing environment that caters to a mother’s needs. While the birthing scene has evolved significantly in the last few years, many birthing rooms continue to lack the modern elements needed to accommodate a wide range of possibilities available like hypnobirthing.
‘Ultima Thule provides a space where the mother and baby can be together as one entity, with their closeness remaining for as long as desired’, explains Minkovska. ‘Hospitals can feel like a baby factory – you could deliver and be home within the same day and I think this shocks both the body and maternal biological system alike.’
Consisting of three elements, each handmade and upholstered using Camira Fabrics, the pieces are designed to provide comfort and support. The collection comprises the Labour Silla chair, which prepares the mother for parturition by allowing the pregnant body to adopt any desired position such as kneeling, squatting or leaning to find comfort; The Parturition Stool supports the parent, while also recognising the need for others to be present during the birth by inviting partners or families to join. The final element, titled Solace Chaise, is intended for postpartum use or recovery, a safe cocoon for both parent and baby to bond in privacy following the birth.
The collection is now being used at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital, which holds a special place in Minkovska’s heart as this is where her daughter was born in January earlier this year.
‘I decided to donate the pieces to a place where they would serve their purpose to the end user they were intended for’, says Minkovska. ‘The pieces now live in the city’s most beautiful room overlooking the river and the House of Parliament. This is in fact the view I had at the postnatal ward when my daughter was born, so it feels like I’ve come full-circle.’