A design that makes patients feel welcome.

Interview with Frank Lohner, LHVH, Creator of the interior design of the practice Dr. Paetow in Düren, Germany.

It’s not just dentistry itself that is subject to constant development, but also the interior design of the dental practices. In the past, dental practices had a sober, no-nonsense design with emphasis on pure medical function. Nowadays, the interior design of a modern dental practice has to offer a lot more: a positive ambience and a pleasant atmosphere to ensure patient loyalty.

Frank Lohner is an architect and co-owner of the architectural office LHVH in Cologne. His office created the interior design of the practice of Dr. Maik Paetow in Düren, Germany.

Komet:
“Mr. Lohner, are you afraid of the dentist?”

Lohner:
( Laughs)
„Do you want to know if I am afraid of the dentist in his role as a medical practitioner or as a client? But seriously, I have an excellent and very empathic dentist who I am not afraid of. As regards the dentist Dr. Paetow, I have cooperated with him during two separate projects, and both times the cooperation between us was excellent, very thorough and very challenging, but will mutual faith in each other’s expertise – couldn’t be better.

Komet:
“Could you briefly describe the list of tasks the practice approached you with?”

Lohner:
“Our architectural office LVHV was directly assigned by the client. There was no competition. A few years ago, we designed the private residence of Dr. Paetow. This time, the task was to design a modern dental practice for 1 dentist, 1 personal assistant, 5 dental assistants and 2 dental technicians.”

Komet:
“Was it a completely new building?”

Lohner:
“No, the location already existed. Built in the 1980s, the function and the visual appearance of the premises were no longer in keeping with the times. They certainly did not live up to Dr. Paetow’s expectations.

Komet:
“What were the worst problems you were expected to solve?”

Lohner:
„The complete reshuffle of the floor plan in order to ensure that the premises allowed a smooth flow of the daily work at the dental practice. A major problem was the large number of so-called “trapped rooms”, i.e. rooms that are only accessible via another separate room.

We had to work to a tight schedule. The conversion had to take place during the company holidays, within just a few weeks. At times, up to 15 experts were at the site. A well-orchestrated chaos. You need excellent workmen for something like that, people who you know and trust.

Komet:
“How deeply did you have to dive into the daily routine at a dental practice in order to tackle such a job?“

Lohner:
“Very deeply, of course. Up to that point, LVHV had no previous any experience whatsoever with dental practices. That is why we subcontracted some external specialists. We were in constant communication with them, not only to ensure that the standard requirements were implemented, but also to produce a made-to-measure architectural result. We were in constant, very intensive exchange with the practice manageress whose insights and comments helped us enormously.”

Komet:
“What was your main concept that inspired and guided you during the redesign?”

Lohner:
“My main concept was the “white filling“. This term goes extremely well with a dental practice. Some sort of large piece of furniture serving as the centre of the practice. To this end, concrete constructions were exposed and integrated into the total picture. The idea was not to install lighting in the hall, but to have this illuminated by the light coming from the surrounding rooms in order to create a very special atmosphere.”

Dental Practice Dr. Paetow, Düren

Komet:
“Some practices opt for a somewhat warmer colour scheme, but you decided to go for a completely white design. What inspired you to do that?“

Lohner:
“We were aiming for a more subtle effect. We did not want our idea to be reflected by a striking colour scheme, but by means of a certain spatial experience. We still placed a touch of colour, in the shape of some red tiles in the sanitary patient zone. We took up the colour of the practice logo in this, a red anchor, if you like.”

Komet:
“Which members of the practice team were involved in the design processes?”

Lohner:
“The client, the team leader and a dental technician. We had some very intensive talks during which we discussed all aspects of the project, above all the work flows.”

Komet:
“In your experience, are there any current trends when it comes to practice design?”

Lohner:
“Yes, there is a definite trend towards individualization. The practice as a kind of walk-in business card. These days, the emphasis is more on the perception and the well-being of the patient. He or she senses that beautiful rooms have been created with the comfort of the patient in mind. If the patient feels comfortable, he is likely to stay loyal to the practice. Apart from that, it has been recognized how important a pleasant interior design is for the mood of the dentist and his team.”