Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘interior dental design’

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.)

TV’s – They’re Everywhere, But Are They A Force for Good?

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Over the fireplace is a favorite location for TV's

Traditional wood-burning fireplace converted to gas

Sitting watching The Big Game last night made me realize how important to our society televisions have become.  They’re everywhere.  There is hardly a bar or restaurant that I go into that doesn’t have at least one TV monitor hanging on a wall somewhere.  Walking through the airport they are everywhere. So, it only makes sense that these devices have also become a fixture in most dental offices.

We agree that the TV monitor is an important tool for promoting the dental health of one’s patients.  In operatories they can provide dual duty by providing an entertainment stream for patients while waiting between exam steps and when integrated with the dental office network a great educational and sales tool to really show the patient what is going on inside his/her mouth.  In consultation rooms they are incredibly valuable sales tools for the very same reason.  Who isn’t going to sign up to have oral work done when they are shown the true state of their health right in front of them on a screen?  Oral cameras, digital x-rays, and touch-screen monitors make communicating with patients easier than ever.  Consequently, they are great assets in helping patients move forward with treatment.  Gone are the days of, “You really need this.  Trust me.”

Waiting Areas and Reception have been a venue for TV’s and monitors for years it seems, and we’re definitely guilty of incorporating them into our clients’ dental office designs.  Unfortunately, so often we find these used to display endless streams of videos showing examples of poor oral health and discussions of treatment options.  The Waiting Area is not the place for these types of videos.  They only serve to stress and gross patients out and do nothing to help them to relax and look forward to their exam.  Who really wants to sit in a room with pictures of gum disease streaming endlessly overhead?

The judicious use of televisions and monitors can greatly enhance the patient experience and lead to increased sales and referrals, but the wrong kind of content will only serve to make patients uncomfortable and undermine the positive aspects of the dental practice.  Before slapping a monitor on a wall somewhere give some thought to its role in enhancing the patient experience and improving the bottom-line.


Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Recessed and surface mounted dispensers

Recessed and surface mounted dispensers

Facial tissues are such a simple thing, yet so many dental offices don’t think about them.  When patients walk in out of the bitter cold (think artic vortex) like so much of North America has been experiencing this winter, their eyes are watering and noses are running because of it.  Having ready access to a tissue is a great thing.  Not everyone remembers to always throw one in their coat pocket before leaving home.

Adding a tissue dispenser into the design of the patient restroom when designing a dental office is an easy thing.  Plus, the very slight rise added cost for this convenience factor is more than offset the first time a patient keeps a scheduled appointment on a cold, blustery, Winter’s day because she remembers what a great experience she had the last time she was there.  After all, cancelled appointments are very expensive and are difficult to rebound from last minute.

So, even if you didn’t think to install built-in dispensers during your last dental office remodel, go ahead and enhance the patient experience that you offer by going out and buying some attractive tissue holders and placing them in key spots about the office such as in the Waiting Room, Patient Restroom, and Operatories.  They’re amazing things.

Good Communication Makes for Good Design

Posted on: December 11th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Talk often

Talk often

Whenever we start a new design project we sit down with our client and spend time getting to know them.  We want to learn what their likes and dislikes are.  We are especially interested in learning what they feel works in their current environment and what doesn’t.  We also spend time discussing what their dream dental office would look like if time, money, and space were no objects.  We blue sky a little.

Throughout the design phase we regularly check back in with our clients to ask for feedback on concepts and designs we are considering.  By gaining this interim feedback the design becomes a very collaborative process and the dental team becomes more intimately involved in shaping their future home.

When the project moves to the bid stage we sit with our clients during the contractor interview process.  This is key to bringing our experience to the client and helping them in choosing a contractor that provides a best fit for their culture and the new office design.  After all, we design and build dental offices every day.  Most dentists and their teams will only do this once or twice during their entire career.

The construction phase is where good communication really shines and can mean the difference in a successful realization of the vision and an on-time and on-budget project and one that isn’t.  A general contractor that communicates jobsite conditions daily and asks lots of clarifying questions saves everyone time and money.  Regular communication between the design team and the general contractor can prevent unforeseen jobsite conditions from turning into problems and prevent unnecessary trips by the design team to the jobsite.

The only kind of communication we don’t like is too much communication between the laborers and the dental team.  When the crew actually executing the design start interrupting the dental team with questions about why something is being done one way or another, this only serves to disrupt the dental team’s productivity, cause doubt about prior decisions they made, and result in confusion and frustration for all parties involved.

Modern technology makes frequent communication efficient and affordable.  When contemplating a new dental office design project seek out a team that likes to talk.  You’ll get a better design.

Customer Service – Why is it so Hard?

Posted on: December 4th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
The Quintessential Doorman

The Quintessential Doorman

Because I travel a lot I get to observe a lot of examples of good and bad customer service.  I will admit that I am not immune to the expectations that certain brands represent in terms of quality of amenities and customer service.  This is what a good branding program is supposed to do.  Consequently, I am particularly sensitive when a property does a bad job of representing their brand.

For example, yesterday I was checking into a Hilton Hotel and pulled my car upfront.  I had a large amount of bags and was hoping to get assistance in transporting them to my room.  No one came out to meet me, so I parked, turned the flashers on and went in search of a bell boy.  Standing at the front door was a doorman in a long overcoat, top hat, and scarf.  I told him what I wanted and he directed me on how to self-park the car and access the lobby via the skywalk.  I again said, “I have a lot of bags.”  He just repeated the directions on how to self-park the car.  In disgust I hopped back into the car and went to park.

This is not the kind of service I’ve come to expect from Hilton – not a lower end brand, mind you, but the full-blown, downtown property type of Hilton.

As a small business owner, dental offices don’t have the same kind of marketing budget that large companies do to develop, promote, and train staff on the branding message so it is especially critical that they be diligent daily in protecting and promoting the branding message.  This means consistent training and reinforcement on how staff behaves and interacts with patients, how the office looks, and how problems are resolved.  Just like with hotels, there are lots of other dentists that people can choose from and one never wants to give a patient an excuse to go searching.

Why Don’t They Just Do Things Right?

Posted on: December 2nd, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
A bad example of a restroom

A bad example of a restroom

We get around and see a lot of design work.  It is kind of an occupational hazard critiquing buildings and designs that we visit.  We just can’t help ourselves.  Of course, since our specialty is dental office design we tend to pay even more attention in dental offices than in other types of businesses and be especially critical of bad design in these facilities.

The one room we see the most problems in is the restroom.  The International Commercial Codes and Americans with Disabilities Act are fairly clear on what constitutes proper accessible design for restroom facilities.  They lay out the differences for shared facilities, single user facilities, and multiple user facilities.  These codes dictate everything from spacing from walls to toilets and sinks, the distance between these items, the height of mirrors, the height of lights and light switches, the placement of paper towel and toilet paper dispensers, and the clearance for door swing.  The biggest challenge for the designer is to create a restroom that meets all of the codes and still has some design aesthetic and doesn’t just come off as a big box.  So, why do people get this room so wrong?

Take, for example, the sink photo we’ve posted here.  The sink is too close to the wall, the soap and towel dispensers are too close to the sink and the waste basket is in the way to even access the sink.  Of course, the placement of the wastebasket isn’t something the designer has any control over.  Trust me when I say we’ve revisited clients who have filled up the clear access space in their restrooms with waste baskets, storage cabinets, and even just decorations.  The clear floor space is there so people in wheelchairs can maneuver in the restroom.  It isn’t just because we designers like large restrooms and open space.

We would hope that there aren’t any dentists out there that would tolerate short cuts or shoddy craftsmanship from their staff when it comes to working on patients’ teeth.  So, why do they accept such work from their designers and contractors that build their offices?  We hope it isn’t because they are just hiring the cheapest possible firms to do their work.

Get Branded

Posted on: November 18th, 2013 by James Kuester 2 Comments
One of our logo designs

One of our logo designs

Watched an interesting movie last night called, “Branded.” The premise of the film was that through skilled marketing people can be made to want a brand independent of any true desire for the good or service that the brand represents.  While I think this is a rather extreme and cynical view of marketing, I do believe that a well-crafted brand will create a positive emotional response in people aware of the brand and thus, they will be more likely to buy the good or service where they experience that positive response over those that they don’t.  They will also be less price sensitive toward the brand that gives them the positive emotional response.

Case in point.  I’d never purchased jeans that cost over $100.  I just never saw the point of paying that much.  One day I was shopping and came across a pair of designer jeans that I liked that were deeply discounted to well below their regular price.  Because I liked the look and fit and the price was right, I bought them.  I get more complements on how my jeans fit in that pair of jeans than any other pair I’ve ever worn.  Receiving so many complements obviously has made me feel good about the jeans and by association all jeans by that label.  I am now more willing to pay a higher price than I’d have ever been willing to pay previously for a pair of jeans – at least that particular brand of jeans.

Creating a positive emotional response in patients is key to creating a strong brand for a dental office.  If a patient has a positive emotional response when they think of their dentist they are less likely to cancel an appointment and more likely to refer their family and friends.  Both activities have a direct, positive impact on the practice’s bottom-line.

Contrary to popular belief a logo isn’t a brand.  A logo is merely a symbolic representation of a brand.  A logo by itself cannot build the positive emotional response that will drive people to purchase a good or service.  Only once the emotional association is established will a logo stimulate a positive emotional response in a patient.

The interior space of a dental office is a critical component in creating a strong, positive emotional response in patients.  The dental office designer needs to work hand-in-hand with the marketing consultant to build strong linkages and associations between the interior design of the space and the other marketing pieces so they all work in tandem to reinforce the positive emotional response that patients receive while visiting their dental office.  In other words, the brand.

The Road Less Straight – Building A Dental Brand that Departs from the Typical

Posted on: November 11th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Do you take the path less straight?

Do you take the path less straight?

One of the biggest challenges of any dental office is figuring out how to differentiate from the competing offices across the street and around the corner.  There was a trend a few years ago to leave traditional dental office spaces and venture into strip malls and spaces reserved traditionally for retail businesses.  The freestanding building is still a popular option, but gone seem to be the days when a dentist buys an old house and converts it into the dental office.  This type of office design just doesn’t resonate with patients and makes one’s brand seem old-fashioned and stuffy.

The brand of any small business is important, but especially so for a dentist.  The brand of your dental office is the emotional response patients get when they think about visiting you.  If they are going to come back for follow-up appointments and if they are going to recommend you to their family and friends, this emotional response had better be a positive one.  While there are so many things that enter into creating this emotional response – your brand – the design of the office itself and the interaction with the people in the practice are probably the most critical.  These two factors are the foundation that the brand is built on.  Your patients expect you to perform great dentistry, but do you do so in an environment that is warm, friendly, welcoming, and memorable?  Or, are you performing dentistry in an environment that is hum-drum, tired, typical, sterile, and not very friendly?  Which dental office do you think has the stronger brand?  Which office do you think has lower cancellations and more referrals?

Making Your Dental Office More Inclusive

Posted on: November 6th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
ADA Compliant Smile Branded Dental Restroom Sign

ADA Compliant Smile Branded Dental Restroom Sign

I just saw the coolest thing while in line at Starbucks.  Starbucks now offers a version of the Starbucks Card in Braille for the visually impaired.  The visually impaired have so many challenges and pulling the right card out of their wallet to buy their coffee should not be one of them.  Nor should navigating their dental office.

Proper interior signage in dental office is often an afterthought during the design process.  So many dentists and staff think that because the office isn’t large and they know where everything is that signage isn’t necessary.  They so often forget about their patients, or future patients, that may be visually impaired.  Even though there are codes on the proper placement of interior signage, they are often not followed, I think more out of ignorance than anything else.  Sadly, the Braille on off-the-shelf signage is often incorrect.  Many large manufacturers don’t have anyone that is visually impaired on their staff to check the signs before they are sent out.

We strongly encourage everyone to make sure the design of their dental office is an inclusive as possible by checking the placement of interior signage and the Braille to make sure everything is correct.