It is easy to use “minimalism” as a design principle yet execution often demands a daring vision, follow-through concepts and calculated restrain – as exemplified in this fit out project.
Located at the ground floor of Jaques on 5 Dyer Street, The Richmond Dentist looks every inch the tenant of a luxury apartment building. The Jaques building sits in the heart of Richmond, an inner city suburb known for its vibrant cafe culture and cult-inspiring football team. As the proud owners of a general practice with a strong focus on cosmetic dentistry, sited just minutes from Melbourne CBD, Dr Fady Tossoun and Mrs Amy Tossoun understand the need for the surgery to befit the urban establishment it is. More importantly, they want the clinic to reflect both the style as well as substance of their brand.
The newly built clinic does not disappoint. An illustration of metropolitan chic, the design concept, while big on functionality, doesn’t skimp on aesthetics and comfort. The surgery’s fit out bear testimony to Amy’s penchant for colours, materials and creating a delightful environment for both staff and customers. Teamed with fit out experts at Levitch Design Australia, with a 28-year track record of delivering dental-specific renovations, theirs was a project made in heaven. With the Tossouns toggling between LDA and a family builder, the project did require some back-and forth negotiations before signing off, but once they did, the dental owners have not looked back on their decision. ‘Even though Levitch’s quote was higher than the other builder’s quote, we decided to engage them as they had a thorough understanding of every aspect of dental practices and the requirements. Further to this, the fact that they were a one-stopshop for all our needs, from design, material selection, all the way to construction and completion, was very attractive to us being so time-poor,’ Amy explains. When it came to design concept or ideas, Fady and Amy shared in common a patient-centric approach:
‘As a non-dentist, I wanted the practice to feel as non-clinical as possible. I had the vision of patients feeling as though they are in a comfortable lounge room rather than a dental clinic,’ says Amy, who is also the practice manager. From a clinician’s perspective, Fady envisioned a “clean and simple” environment in which patients and staff would feel comfortable. In his brief to LDA, the dentist requested for: Ceiling mounted TV screens; and a consult room outside of the surgery that puts patients at ease when discussing their treatment. The goal was to create a visually articulate environment where beauty, functionality, comfort and efficiency meet at the centre – each playing a supporting and not domineering role. Around the minimalistic core of the design, you would find many well conceptualised devices that strike a fine balance between design aesthetics and functionality.
With calculated restrain, LDA brought to bear Amy’s vision of quiet sophistication that eludes other more elaborate and heavy-handed designs. The subtle design and layout truly shines when viewed as a collective whole, with each neatly partitioned space gently streaming into the next. Unassertive grey-and-whites fill the walls and matching cabinetry. Soft lounging chairs and green pots tucked into corners to maximise floor space. The marble and timber reception counter and opposite-facing feature wall – with inserts for a plasma TV and magazine rack – assume low-key presence in a restful reception area. It is as though all the individual elements have conspired a retreat from the spotlight, preferring to let the minimalist concept weave its magic.
LDA’s approach to layout, construction and space allocation is, as always, clinically precise. Upon closer inspection, not a hair of detail is lost on the builders: Quality shelving in airtight spaces; internal recess walls that double as dispensers for consumables; conveniently located refresh bay along the corridor; strategically placed chairs and ceiling-mounted screens; etc. At the other end of the design spectrum, careful deliberation was given to create light and airy spaces in which staff and patients feel right at home. As the customer makes the journey from a charming reception area, down the hotel-like corridor, finally stepping into the spacious surgery room, the experience is simultaneously relaxing and visually engaging.
Although the design process took longer than anticipated, actual fit out and construction was completed in slightly less than two months – an amazing feat considering the comprehensive scope of work. Instrumental to the speedy completion were the project’s main contact persons: Ben Barker, who advised on the commercial space and potential floor plan; as well as Site Supervisor, Dale Perkins, who according to the grateful clients, was “very hands on and helpful, even after the project had finished”.
According to Amy, LDA rose to the occasion when called upon to tackle unforeseen onsite challenges. In a particular instance, where two rooms instead of three, as planned, were plumbed – ground work necessary to ready the rooms for accepting plumbing fixtures – Ash Pollard, the project manager had to be called in immediately. Although floorboards that were prematurely installed had to be removed, and plumbers slotted in on short notice, the project manager was able to swiftly resolve the issue – no doubt keeping an eye on the building deadline. Events like this showcase the importance of the fit out team’s responsiveness, Amy attests: “I appreciated (LDA’s) communication throughout the project. Whenever I had a query, they would respond quickly.” The clinic’s Practice Manager, who has her own ideas about interior decor, was further impressed by Levitch’s clever use of space and ability to adapt the client’s vision: ‘Their experience in space use was imperative to our project as our space was not easy to design around. They gave us ideas to fill our dead space with – such as a dry refresh bay, which our patients use regularly.
‘I was impressed with how they laid out our patient lounge in order to maximise the space and impact upon entry. They listened to all my design ideas and incorporated it into the project.’ Fady interjects: “Even though Levitch provided us with their layout expertise, I have to credit most of the design work to Amy. Kudos nonetheless to Levitch for taking her ideas on board and bringing them all to life.” Customer feedback on the fit out has been unanimous: “All our patients love the set up, they feel it accurately reflects our philosophy.” As for their own experience as customers, Amy enthuses: “Our customer experience was great. Even though we had a few hiccups along the way, we could not deny the quality of the end product.” “I absolutely would recommend Levitch’s services,” Fady concludes, “I love the surroundings I work in – and that’s something that’s very important to my team and I.”
Written by Danny Chan, as it appeared in the March April 2018 Issue of the Australasian Dentist Magazine.