February 8, 2007
A Crowning Achievement
Architects create a sleek interior for a New York dental office.
Shiny and bright as a newly polished tooth, an office on New York’s Upper East Side says a lot about what clients can expect from their visit. After all, the place is run by cosmetic dentist Jonathan Levine, founder of the GoSMILE tooth-whitening product line. “GoSMILE is kind of science meets style, and I wanted my practice to reflect that,” he says.
The entrance and lobby area of Levine’s newly renovated space are now defined by one grand gesture—a lacquered wrapper of brilliant white that welcomes clients, shows them the way to reception, and folds down from the ceiling to create a countertop, shelving unit, and display case. Designed by Pete Pelsinski and Karen Stonely of New York’s SPaN architects, the inspiration wasn’t quite as straightforward as it initially appears. “When we saw the space the old interior had just been demolished, and the first thing we thought about was establishing an architecture that borrowed the logic of aesthetic dentistry,” Pelsinski says. “We wanted to create this veneer that would work in the space in a corrective way because it had so many problems.” The 1,700-square-foot space included a cramped vestibule, a poor circulation pattern, and a low-hanging beam that interrupted the ceiling.
However, the architects were also smitten with GoSMILE’s high-end pearly white and steel blue packaging, the original version of which unfolded in stages to reveal the merchandise. In response, they made the interior veneer resemble a one-piece deconstructed paper box. “In the same way that the packaging entices you and carries you through how to use the different products, that’s what our folded piece does for the entrance,” Stonely says.
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Built by bending plywood over wooden ribs and lacquering the surface, the finished wrapper creates a calm, cool atmosphere. “He wanted a spa feel and a Zen-like experience for his patients, which is in stark contrast to the kind of terror that most people feel when they go to the dentist,” Pelsinski says. For Levine the design also has the added advantage of extending his brand image: “It looks like you’ve stepped into a GoSMILE box.”