Style is The Best Medicine
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 2/1/2010 12:00:00 AM
firm: karim rashid site: belgrade, serbia
If you happen to be walking around Belgrade, you may pass more than a dozen branches of the Oasis of Health, an upstart pharmacy chain that has grown steadily in and around the Serbian capital. Most of them are antiquated re-creations of 1930's apothecaries, complete with dark paneling and a marble floor. But the latest one is nothing less than the singular, theatrical vision of Karim Rashid.
The prolific industrial and interior designer expanded his efforts into Belgrade six years ago and now spends about one month there annually with his Serbian-born wife, chemical engineer Ivana Puric Rashid. One standout from his Serbian oeuvre is a high-tech gaming parlor owned by the husband of one of the women who founded Oasis of Health. Because the gaming parlor is in a fashionable residential neighborhood, she decided it was worth the investment to remake the residual space next door as another pharmacy.
Because the space had been accessible only through the lobby of the 1950's building that houses both establishments, Rashid broke through the travertine facade to add a street entrance—even though the floor level inside was 4½ feet above the sidewalk. To bridge the gap, the front third of the shop became a flight of stairs. The treads are pale pink, and the walls are white, which draws attention to balustrades in the Oasis of Health logo's kelly green. "I'm a big believer in strong color, because it heightens human emotion when you walk in," he says.
Beyond the stairs, Rashid reverted to his signature curves to keep the 480-square-foot shop from feeling like a little box, he says: "As soon as you curve the walls, you stop seeing shadows, and a space looks as large as you imagine it could be." (Suffice it to say that such vest-pocket shops, which focus on over-the-counter and prescription drugs, are still a far cry from a superstore in the U.S.)
A pair of druggists stand behind a kelly green gel-coated desk shaped like a jelly bean. Rashid mounted it on a partial-height column, so the bottom of the bean appears to rest lightly on the vine leaves of the floor's Oasis of Health logo, printed on ceramic tiles. Hidden from the eyes of customers are a cash register along with much-needed storage. Directly behind and to one side, vitrines display pills and potions.
A double helix of digitally animated LEDs pulses back and forth across the center of the ceiling. For Rashid, this constant movement recalls the spinning of a barber pole. Others might think of the colorful pulses of a patient's healthy heartbeat on an EKG monitor.
Either way, it's all related to the "notion of branding hygiene," Rashid explains. "The thing I would most love to design in this world is a hospital." That's a fittingly squeaky-clean statement from a man known as much for his white suits as for his ubiquitous plastic wastepaper baskets.
THROUGHOUT MEGA INZENERING: BALUSTRADE GLASS. WETRICOM: DOUBLE-HELIX FIXTURES. OIKOS: PAINT. ZOMONT D.O.O.: WOODWORK. MOLERKO: PAINTING CONTRACTOR.