Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dental interior design’

Accessibility Along the Wine Trail

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

This past Memorial Day Weekend I went with friends on a tour of wineries in Western Wisconsin along the Great River Road that runs alongside the Mississippi River. We tasted some good and some not-so-good wine, and we had a great time visiting the shops that are abundant in the small towns all along the trail.

As we toured in and out of the shops and restaurants I couldn’t help noticing the wide variety of interpretations of the American’s with Disabilities Act implementations there were in regards to restroom accessibility. The ADA is fairly straightforward in its guidelines as to what makes for compliant design and what does not. Here are some of my favorites from our trip.

A towel bar doesn't make a good ADA grab bar

A towel bar doesn’t make a good ADA grab bar

One – a towel bar does not a grab bar make.   Towel bars are not the same diameter as grab bars and consequently are not as easy to grip if one needs some added stability. Additionally, towel bars are designed to hold towels, not the weight of a person, so even if this one happened to be installed with proper backing behind the drywall, chances are it would give way if someone actually used it for support.

Two – installing at a diagonal does not count as two bars. The ADA requires both horizontal and vertical supports around a toilet. Additionally, the horizontal support needs to extend down one side and across the back of the toilet. Installing the bar at an angle does not meet the requirement for both horizontal and vertical support. Nice try, but no.

 

 

 

Angled mounting doesn't count for two.

Angled mounting doesn’t count for two.

As in the first example I’m curious as to how well this bar would hold up mounting into the rough stone of an old barn if someone actually needed the support. Neither the mounting bolts nor the bar itself struck me as too stable.

Three – this restroom gets an “A”. Not only have they installed all of the proper bars, they are installed in the proper locations with distances that meet ADA guidelines for spacing from floor to bar and toilet to wall. Of course, they also get brownie points for designing a nice looking restroom while they were at it.

 

 

This is how an ADA compliant bathroom is supposed to look.

This is how an ADA compliant bathroom is supposed to look.

When was the last time you were in the public restroom at your dental office? Take a look and see just how whether all of the proper bars are installed and in compliance. Adding bars is a fairly easy thing to do and will make patients with disabilities dental experience much better should they need to use the facilities while there.

Design for Accessibility

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad

I recently traveled with my aging parents to my sister’s wedding on Chesapeake Bay. It was a lovely weekend and everyone had a great time, yet while I see my parents every week, living and traveling with them for four days reinforced to me just how much care we, as designers, need to take in designing for accessibility.

My parents are both in their mid-80’s and I think they get around pretty well. They are both in good health, yet do suffer from typical effects of aging such as diminished hearing, vision, balance, and mobility. Consequently, traveling to unfamiliar places poses a challenge. They don’t hear instructions by TSA agents, hotel clerks, and restaurant servers well when there is a lot of background noise. They get tripped up when floors and transitions are not smooth or stairs are of an uneven height. They don’t immediately identify signs and wayfinding clues. Watching my parents navigating unfamiliar terrain made me realize just how much work we have cut out for us in creating designs for our clients that work to diminish these challenges.

The elderly are not the only ones that need good accessibility design. Anyone who has ever broken a leg or ankle or for whatever reason was restricted to crutches or a wheelchair can tell you just how challenging getting around can be. Entrance ramps that are supposed to provide accessibility are often at the wrong angle and require tremendous effort to mount. Restrooms that do not follow ADA accessibility guidelines are next to impossible to navigate alone. Most operatories are designed for the efficiency of the staff and do not take the ability of the patient at all. Good signage in dental offices is almost non-existent. Patients of all ages can benefit from better accessibility design. Our job as dental office designers it to make sure our clients’ practices excel in providing it.

The Time is Now

Posted on: May 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
The Earth as seen from space

The Earth as seen from space

President Obama is on a roll this week announcing he’s making battling climate change a major priority for the remainder of his term. All we can say is, “It’s about time!” We don’t know about anyone else, but we’re tired of hearing and reading about all of the political back-and-forth over whether climate change is real or isn’t real. The science from what we’ve seen is pretty convincing that climate change is real and happening now. Just think about Katrina, Sandy, mud slides, and droughts. That all seems pretty real to us. We also don’t believe there is any point in arguing whether humans are the cause or not. That is a pointless argument. Carbon is the cause and humans are the only species on the planet that has the capacity to deal with rising carbon emissions. If we don’t act, who will – the dolphins or the rhinos?

Buildings amount for approximately 39% of all carbon emissions. This includes every house, office building, and factory. We were taught in accounting classes that if one wants to cut expenses always start with the single largest line item on the Income Statement. Well, guess what? A line item that amounts to 39% is a pretty large item and one that everyone has a hand in since we all live and work in a building of one form or another. There’s no opportunity to push the responsibility for change off on “the factories.”

We can all attack this problem by reducing the energy use at home and at work. Replace all lighting with LED that uses a mere 15% of the energy of an incandescent bulb. We can replace all water faucets and fixtures with Water Sense fixtures that use less water and are more efficient. We can all make sure we have plenty of insulation in the walls and ceilings of our homes and offices. (Okay, if we rent office space this might be a stretch, but we can seek out offices that are located in LEED certified buildings.) We can all recycle. If we’re a dentist we can join the Eco Dentistry Association and make our practices more efficient by becoming Green Doc Certified.  If we’re an architect, engineer, or designer we can design to LEED standards whether our clients ask us to or not. Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.

Let’s stop pointing fingers and passing-the-buck. Let’s join together and get serious about making change for the good and halting the effects of climate change. We have great faith in the capacity of mankind for great change and great good. For our own survival and that of every other species on the planet (except for cockroaches as we think they can survive anything), we have a rare moment to make history.

Sanitary Flooring Options for the Dental Office

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
terrazzo floor w cove (2)

Terrazzo floor with seamless cove base

Do you need a floor that is easy to clean and easy to keep microbial free?  One of the best ways to insure both features is to get one that is seamless.  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.  One if through a rolled vinyl material that has welded seams where needed.  Another is through using terrazzo.

There are rolled vinyl products available now that contain recycled content and provide antimicrobial properties.  Some can be seamed to a cove base to create a smooth, corner free transition from floor to wall that is easy to clean and prevents dirt attracting crevices at the edges.

This same seamless cove transition is possible using terrazzo where the base and flooring can be poured together to provide a great microbe free surface.  Terrazzo is another green option as it can readily contain recycled materials as part of the aggregate and is produced locally to the project.

Especially in surgery suites where sanitation is of added importance we recommend either of these approaches to achieving a great looking, low maintenance, sanitary floor.

Always On the Lookout

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A common concrete trough sink.

A common concrete trough sink.

We’re always on the lookout for new and interesting design ideas that hopefully, one day we’ll be able to incorporate into a project for one of our clients.  While we’re not exactly sure how we’d work this into a dental office design, the Coup d’état restaurant that recently opened in Minneapolis’ Uptown District really has a fun twist on restroom design.  Rather than completely separate facilities for men and women or the increasingly popular unisex arrangement, they still separated the main facilities between the sexes but combined the hand-washing station into a single, long, poured concrete trough with several faucets positioned along the length.  This common area not only affords a great pattern interrupt from the same ol’, same ol’ in restaurant restrooms, it makes great use of the long, narrow hallway that so often accompanies access to restrooms.  Plus, because it is unexpected patrons to the restaurant engage in spontaneous conversation while washing their hands before returning to their tables.  What a great way to get people off their phones and talking to one another!

Of course, we cannot forget those with disabilities.  One end of the trough was lowered and had its own sink at a height and design compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This feature was also poured concrete and integrated into the whole so it felt natural and a part of the design rather than an afterthought or special accommodation.

The ADA compliant sink at one end.

The ADA compliant sink at one end.

We applaud the designers for Coup d’état on their creativity and originality and look forward to the chance to flatter them by “copying it” in one of our own.  (Oh, by the way, the food is really good, too.)

Blue – Another Great Color Choice for 2014

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
"Blue" jeans

“Blue” jeans

Blue.  More specifically, indigo, is a hot color right now.  Earlier we discussed that Radiant Orchid is Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, but Indigo is definitely a hot choice right now among color enthusiasts.  The color watchers at The Wall Street journal are seeing a re-emergence of Indigo in everything from fashion to furnishings and print.

What makes Indigo such an appealing color? Think blue jeans.  Ever since Levi Strauss launched his line of jeans in the 19th century, Americans have been in love with their jeans.  Who doesn’t wear a pair when they are off work and relaxing?  Heck, we’re known to wear our favorite pairs until they have holes and are practically falling off of us.  If one is going to design a dental office and brand it as the ultimate in relaxed, comfortable, and friendly oral health care, what better way to capture this than by using indigo and denim as part of the décor?

The goal is to create a space that people feel comfortable coming to so they won’t cancel their appointments out of anxiety and that they’ll refer all of their family and friends to.  Indigo can be an excellent choice, working well against a backdrop of neutral colors from white to beige to taupe to bring a sense of calm and relaxation to the practice.  Will indigo appeal across genders?  We certainly think so. What man doesn’t own a pair of jeans and have blue in his closet?

Ready to Inject Some Bold Color into Your Design?

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by James Kuester 1 Comment

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year is 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, which they describe as, “…a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple.”1

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”1

We agree.  The modern dental office experience screams for originality, creativity, and individualization of the patient experience, and the design of the office is a key foundation for building a brand that brings this all together for the thriving practice.  Without a unique brand and patient experience how else is a dental office going to set itself apart and thrive in an increasingly crowded marketplace where a new practice opens seemingly across the street every day?  Infusing the office design with accents of colors that speak to the here, the now, and the creative is one way to keep the patient experience fresh, unique, and different.  Layered over a neutral palette of grays, beiges, or taupes, this color used as an accent can really re-energize a space without overpowering it.

We challenge our clients to think beyond the box and embrace a bold and different branding message and consider incorporating this year’s Color of the Year into their accent pieces.

1 Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2014:
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid

The More Special Dental Experience

Posted on: March 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A Lindt truffle

A Lindt truffle

Do you remember when your dentist gave you a sucker after your appointment?  I do.  I loved Charm Pops and going to the dentist was the only time I ever got one.  Getting to pick out a grape one after my appointment made me feel special and helped take away the anxiety of having to go in the first place.  (I feared having a cavity and having my teeth pulled.)

The other night I returned to my hotel room following a banquet to find a Lindt chocolate on my pillow and the bed turned down.  While many consider such touches to be old fashion, I find them quite nice. The simple touch was a nice surprise coming back to the room after a long day.

I understand why dentists don’t give out sugary candy after appointments anymore.  A bit self-serving and not exactly a promotion of good oral health, but there are other ways to add a special little touch to one’s dental experience to make the trip more special.  (I friend and co-advisor in a youth group I work with likes to call this “specialer”.)  So, the goal is to design a dental experience that is “specialer” so patients feel good about their visits and time spent there.  When a “specialer” experience is achieved patients refer more family and friends about how great their experience was, which translates into growth for the practice.  And, the best part is creating a “specialer” dental experience only requires little touches – remember the Charm Pops and Lindt chocolate.

A Walk on the Red Carpet

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

The red carpet.  Conjures up star studded events such as the Academy Awards and other award shows.  The people that walk there are special.  They get noticed. They get treated well.  Is it too much to ask to get a little “red carpet” treatment injected into our everyday lives?  The patients that come to your dental office deserve nothing less.

We’re not advocating that every dental office be designed with red carpeting.  That would be rather dull, wouldn’t it?  No, instead we’re advocating that the experience of walking into one’s dental office should make a patient feel they are the most important person in the world at that moment.  They should be immediately surrounded by colors, lights, and textures that make them feel calm, relaxed, and confident that they will receive excellent oral health care.  They should be greeted by a warm, smiling person that acknowledges that their presence is appreciated and important.  They should be offered a comfortable place to sit, a secure place to hang their coat, and a beverage to warm them or quench their thirst.  While the goal is to never have anyone waiting, one cannot anticipate the patient that arrives early or the unexpected procedure that delays an operatory from being available exactly as scheduled.

In accordance with HIPAA patients should not be addressed by their full names and there should not be a sign in sheet that identifies them or their appointment time where other patients may read this information.  Gone should be the ultra-unfriendly and overly clinical glass window that staff hides behind and cuts them off from patients.

We’ve never walked into a day spa that didn’t immediately make us feel good about being there.  The same thing cannot be said about many dental offices.  While dental offices are not day spas, there is no reason that dental offices can’t take a page from the day spa handbook on how to give patients a “walk on the red carpet.”

Lighting Revolution Underway

Posted on: February 26th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Soon to be history, incandescent bulb

Soon to be history, incandescent bulb

One of the critical ways to help create a memorable dental office experience is through appropriate lighting.  Good lighting design will help a space really come alive.  Lighting helps create and enhance the shadows and spots that transforms a room from ordinary to spectacular.  We really feel it is a shame that so many dental offices have given so little thought to their lighting and merely thrown in a few “cans” and overhead fluorescent fixtures.  These do nothing to create great light to work by, to create a memorable experience for patients, or to reduce the practice’s energy footprint.  New regulations may help move things forward by eliminating the incandescent bulb from store shelves.

December 31, 2013 marked the last day that 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs could be manufactured for sale.  This follows the elimination of the 75 and 100 watt bulbs a year ago.  Incandescent bulbs only convert 10% of the energy they consume into light.  While halogen, compact fluorescent, and LED’s are all still available, we prefer the use of LED’s above all others.

LED’s (light emitting diodes) use only 15% of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb and less than half of a fluorescent.  Plus, they contain no mercury that can wreak havoc with the environment if not properly disposed of.  The range of colors (Kelvin) that are available in LED’s is increasing daily along with the amount of light (lumens) they emit.  Given this it is easier to create a bright, sunlight true (kelvin above 3500) operatory and a warmer, yellower light (kelvin closer to 2000) in the waiting area.

“But, the fixtures are so expensive!” We hear this a lot, but mainly from contractors and not our clients, and this can be true – to a point.  A room that would require nine (9) incandescent or compact fluorescent can fixtures may require as few as five (5) LED ones.  So, not only is the dental office spending less on energy to illuminate the space they are spending less up front on total fixture and installation cost.  Sounds like a win-win to us!