I love getting inspiration from the most unexpected sources, and recently I found it in one of the most unusual places you could ever imagine: a dentist’s office. A few weeks ago, I took my kids to a new dentist for the obligatory checkup. The dentist happened to be the mom of a kid that my kid goes to preschool with and she was highly recommended so I made the appointments and brought my kids in.
I could not believe this was a dentist’s office.
As I looked around, I admired the use of color and the deliberate mix of textures and styles pulled together in a cohesive way. I noticed that there were both Lucite and wood stump end tables in the entry, vivid color on the walls, bold original art on large scale canvases, and chrome and beaded sconces and chandeliers.
In a dentist’s office. Wow.
After my kids had their cleaning, I had the opportunity to talk to the dentist herself, Dr. Praveena Permalla. Praveena explaned that no, she did not hire anyone to decorate her office space, and yes, she designed it all herself, floor to ceiling. She chose every color, fabric, fixture and surface.
It. Is. Uh-may-zing!
I asked Praveena what was the inspiration for her design and she was kind enough to put a few words in writing for me. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to hear a professional speak of an office space in the way Praveena does.
“Dental offices have been designed in the same old fashion for so many years that most people do not believe it is possible for beautiful design to coexist with clinical efficiency and function. I knew it would be a challenge, but I never questioned that it would be possible to achieve both.
Designing this practice was an opportunity for me to test the waters of my design capability. Until this project, I never had the opportunity to literally start from the ground up and let loose. In making the design decisions I constantly asked myself, what works for me? What feels like home?’ The idea of home is the overarching design theme of the space. I purposefully chose to purchase furniture designed for the home instead of an office.”
Like this cowhide chair. This is where patients sit to fill out their “forms” online. It’s a very green office, so there are no paper files, and everything is digital. In any other dentist’s office you’d see an ordinary office chair, but not here. Instead, Praveena chose this Eames inspired plywood molded chair that you’d find as a stylish modern accent in a home. I love it!
“Aside from providing patients with the comforts of home, I also wanted to transform their expectations. Most patients dread even the sight of a dental chair, but when the dental chair is a vibrant green, it suddenly becomes less intimidating.
Sterilization rooms may also cause patients anxiety when they see the metal tools lying on the counter. We go through great lengths to insure that our tools are kept from view. The colorful tile backsplash and the kitchen sink provide a comforting feeling of home to anyone who happens to view the sterilization room.”
Praveena mixed her cabinetry colors too, adding rich mahogany (not shown) to keep the white from being too overpowering, as is so on trend right now in kitchen design. The glass mosaic tile backsplash has all shades of chocolate, gray, and white mixed together in a random pattern and it is stunning.
One of my favorite details is this asymmetrical hand washing basin sink, and the repetition of the same glass tile backsplash. Such great ceramic soap dispensers too!
Listen to how Praveena describes the accessories in her office. She applies the same techniques to her professional space that we do to our own homes.
“The accessories displayed throughout the office, such as pillows, vases, and paintings are some of my favorite elements of the space. By constantly rotating the pieces, I am able to give the office a fresh look without actually needing to purchase additional accessories.
I particularly love changing the paintings as they are often the first elements that grab the attention of my patients.”
Attention grabbing is right! Here is a recent piece Praveena painted herself in the space where she treats small children. How creative and fun is this artwork? I love the playful use of color and those floating flowers on the wall. What a great message she’s sending: this is an inviting atmosphere where children should not be afraid, rather they should feel comfortable.
“My paintings are most often inspired by my desire to see a particular color or achieve a certain aesthetic quality. Instead of repainting an entire wall, I am able to capture my vision on canvas. This office has become my own art gallery and it is wonderful to receive positive reactions from patients when they view my personal creative work.”
You can see in more of her bold canvases in this image of her entry below. Those two orchids on canvas she painted are so beautiful in person, and she has such attention to detail. Also, notice how the colors on the painted office walls come from the vivid green, orange, and blues that exist in her paintings. And here’s the remarkable thing: Praveena is completely self taught as an artist.
Standard issue waiting room chairs? Nope, not here. Those are upholstered gray blue velvet dining room chairs from West Elm. I think that’s just brilliant. Don’t miss those beaded chandeliers hanging to the left, and there are even more chrome and beaded sconces scattered throughout the office space. Every detail is well thought out, taking into consideration both comfort and style in every aspect of the design.
My biggest takeaway from my new dentist’s office is this: professional business spaces need not be sterile nor styled in traditional methods of the past. Bring bold color, modern lines, fabrics, texture and art into an office space, and all of a sudden it’s more welcoming, like a home. I applaud Praveena for having the tenacity to stick to her vision, even when contractors and other business professionals discounted her ideas. Praveena’s goal was to transform expectations with her unconventional thinking, and to that I say mission accomplished!
If you’re local, I recommend their dental services too, Praveena and her fantastic team have great bedside manner, especially with children. You can read all about her professional services and eco-friendly dentistry here.