I don’t think I’m alone in stating that it’s nearly impossible to find someone who enjoys going to the doctor — especially if it concerns their teeth. With flicking fluorescent lights, bland beige tones and the dull hum of grinding molars in the distance, these spaces often feel more alienating than inviting. When Montreal-based Go Orthodontistes tapped local designer Natasha Thorpe to reimagine their medical spaces, the company knew they were in for something some different.
For the almost 40-year-old office’s second outpost — this time in the city’s Golden Square Mile neighbourhood, near bustling downtown — the emerging studio fitted the 425-square-metre clinic with a surprising panoply of materials: brick, powder-coated steel, metal mesh, smoked glass and more. The result is a refined, shimmering complex that evokes Go’s unique approach. And, feels more like a visit to a well-crafted boutique than to the dentist.
Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a playful elevated platform trimmed in gold-tinted, power-coated steel, which doubles as the patient waiting area. A trio of custom ottomans and an assortment of grey poufs soften the room’s industrial edge, while a bespoke mobile cabinet – more evocative of a Rue Sainte-Catherine boutique then a dental office – provides room for jackets and more beneath its arched cap.
Immediately across from the lifted “waiting room,” a curving wall in rippling white steel cleverly conceals a conference room as well as private office and washroom for employees. Two private treatment rooms with striking laminated metal mesh glass doors flank the hand-tiled corridor leading to the open treatment space and private kitchen.
Beneath a ceiling lined in gold mesh panels (a dexterous maneuver to mask the unsightly ductwork without concealing it entirely) suspended metal curtains float just above the floor to delineate the five-seat facility. “The array of complementary shades allows for a warm and calming environment for patients and staff,” Thorpe notes, adding that these gilded elements are conceived to “capture the abundant sunlight during the day.”
“Accents of gold are continuously found in areas such as the retractable curtains in the open clinic as well as door frames, wall partitions and faucets,” she continues, “[that] let the environment breathe upward with a light-catching quality.”
Thorpe’s final move comes in the form of a communal tooth brushing station, constructed almost entirely out of red demolition brick. While nodding to the surrounding architectural fabric and the clinic’s first location in the Drummond Medical Building just up the street, the custom design also works to ground the more sleek gestures of the space — centring hygienic rituals over sterile materials.
“Beyond functional traits,” she adds, “the layout and materiality of the space impacts visitors creating a positive experience with none of the anxiety-inducing connotations of a medical environment.” It’s the design equivalent of a gold filling.
For the clinic’s second location, local designer Natasha Thorpe mixes materials to achieve a space more akin to a high-end shop than a trip to the doctor.