On a Higher Plane
Eva Hagberg -- Interior Design, 11/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
There's an old joke about the guru who went to the dentist and refused novocaine. Why was that? He wanted to transcend dental medication.
Transcendence isn't normally associated with cavities and root canals, but it may be now. When Doug Stiles Interior Design converted a 2,000-square-foot New York caretaker's apartment into the office of dentists Steven Alper and Avo Samuelian, the firm set aside traditional ideas of comfort—wood paneling, overstuffed chairs, thick carpet. Instead, principal Doug Stiles took health-care interiors both holistic and high-tech.
Perfectly representing this unusual synthesis, the flooring owes its dreamy blue to pigment-dyed concrete—the subtle shine comes from low-gloss resin lacquer. Stiles chose the color for both its calming effect and spiritual meaning. "Blue is associated with balancing and healing the body's fifth energy center, or chakra, located at the throat," he explains.
In reception, the blue flooring anchors a desk of cork, plywood, and Panelite honeycomb aluminum panels, plus a waiting area of excellent mid-century credentials. Italian 1950's blown-glass pendant fixtures hang above Marco Zanuso's pair of womblike vintage armchairs and a glass-topped table that reflects light from three south-facing windows. Against one wall, above a vintage George Nelson bench with a seat of walnut slats, hangs a Joseph Conforti piece composed of rows of small ceramic tags, while bright, densely packed swirls fill the surface of a photo-based work by "Whitney Biennial" darling Assume Vivid Astro Focus, an artist more conventionally known as Eli Sudbrack.
Extending from reception is a long skylit hallway lined by steel-framed doors with capsule-shape windows. Five of the doors open to treatment rooms. The remaining seven belong to the break room, lab, restroom, storage room, dentists' offices, and administrative office.
In the inner rooms and offices, which are windowless, there's not a ray of fluorescent down-lighting to be found. Full-spectrum indirect fluorescents are recessed in treatment-room cabinetry, and—everywhere except reception—wall-mounted incandescents provide the primary illumination source, playfully diffusing both light and anxiety. Open wide, and say "Ohm."