For John D. Dugan, Jr., MD, and his partners, the motivation to create an aesthetically pleasing and highly functional dispensary was so great that the team closed down two small offices and relocated the entire practice to a more accommodating space in a former roller skating rink.
“Because we had never sold optical before, we wanted to introduce it to our patients in the ideal setting. We didn’t want the retail side of things to come across as too aggressive, but we wanted to make an impact,” says Dugan, who along with his partners purchased an old skating rink and one of the more interesting aspects of that is it gave us a blank space to work with. In a skating rink the bearing walls are the exterior walls and the interior is wide open with high ceilings. It allowed us to create a floor plan that functions very well.”
Working with Eye Designs, Dugan and his partners took full advantage of the interior space. High ceilings in the dispensary and waiting area, as well as in the patient exam rooms add an open, luxurious feel. Elevated soffits in the drywall are accented with crown moldings that match the cherry wood of the optical display cases and a pristine wood floor—bordered by a carpet in a subtle pattern—directs patients and walk-in shoppers alike through the dispensary. “We were trying to create a look that is warm and inviting, yet refined and classic,” explains Dugan. “The ambiance is crisp and clean, and incorporates hues of green, blue and natural wood to provide warmth.”
With 1,200 square feet, the dispensary has a spacious feeling with numerous cabinets and glass-topped table displays. Curved walls play off the architectural influence of the former skating rink and help guide the flow of traffic between the dispensary and the doctors’ offices. With a total of 8,000 square feet, the practice and dispensary account for one-third of the building’s total space. Panera Bread, a day spa and a yoga studio occupy the additional square footage. “Since our location is in a busy retail area, we wanted to make the optical shop inviting to both our regular patients and walk-in consumers,” says Dugan. In addition, the optical shop keeps retail hours, staying open well into the evening and on Saturdays.
“This really is a great office,” adds Dugan. “We’ve been open two years and we haven’t needed to change a thing.” With Eye Designs working the details, Dugan and his partners structured the interior with an eye toward traffic flow to and from the dispensary. Exam rooms are grouped together to make efficient use of the space and prevent the doctors from having to run back and forth down a long hallway between patients. There are 10 exam rooms, a Lasik suite, patient workup area and offices for each of the doctors. There is also a small on-site lab located just off the sales floor. “Since most of the fabrication is completed off-site, our optician’s lab area was designed to facilitate the checking in and adjusting of frames,” says Dugan. “We also needed to incorporate a patternless scanning system in the lab area that interacts with our point of sale system.” “One of the best things about the whole process was the fact that we didn’t have to make any changes to the design plan once we started,” he adds. “Eye Designs did our displays, but they also worked with us to help design the whole office. They knew where to place the displays in relation to the doors and how to guide us on color selection. And in the end, we created a very open and appealing visual experience for those waiting for appointments or simply shopping for glasses.”
Denver Eye Surgeons/Denver Eye Center Optical
When Denver Eye Surgeons decided to give its dispensary a much-needed facelift, the good doctors called on Fashion Optical to lend a guiding hand. Saddled with a dark, outdated space, the doctors knew they wanted a lighter contemporary look from the redesign and were willing to invest approximately $500,000 to get it.
“We had been in this space for 20 years and had never updated the look of it,” says Jackie Harris, practice administrator. “Everything about the old space was dark—very much the style for 1985—but not very functional today.” In addition, the doctors felt that the dispensary was not enough of a focal point—too many patients weren’t even aware the practice had a dispensary and in its old incarnation, there was little chance of capturing any walk-in sales.
“We knew we needed to better incorporate the retail space into the clinical space,” says Harris. “And to do that properly, we decided to knock down a wall, which not only gave us a better entry way, but also increased the footprint of the dispensary.”
With more space and better flow, Denver Eye Surgeons turned to the experts at Fashion Optical to give the office and dispensary a cohesive look and a more updated feel. Employing light maple woodwork and a neutral color scheme, the dispensary was immediately and efficiently revitalized—and with more space for display cabinets and frameboards, the doctors were able to showcase a larger selection of frames and create a dedicated area for highend sunwear.
While admitting to a bit of trepidation at the onset of the redesign, Harris is quick to point out that the process ran very smoothly and that the change has been met with approval from all sides. “We have historically served an older population and one of the more humorous responses we typically get from these patients is that they think they’re in the wrong place,” adds Harris. “The lighting alone has given us a more appealing look. We tell our patients that now they can actually see to read in our waiting room. It was so dark before.”
And when a redesign is so on target that it helps to attract a new customer base, it’s a win-win for everyone. “I think on a subconscious level we were hoping to attract new patients,” says Harris. “We do Lasik surgery here and that typically draws a younger patient. I think the fresh look goes a long way toward repeat business—people come in for a variety of reasons, but they come back because the whole experience is so appealing.”
Though the practice decided to remain open throughout the three-month redesign process, disruption was surprisingly minimal. By taking over an adjacent empty office, the doctors were able to shuffle in and out of their space, giving workers complete access to areas under construction and keeping patients and their exams away from the chaos. “I have to say, once all the decisions were made, the process went very smoothly,” adds Harris. “We’ve been in business 35 years, so to celebrate with this facelift is really a great thing.”
Westlake Vision Center
Randy Yamada, OD, has always understood the importance of making a strong visual impression. So when it came time to update the look of his Westlake Village practice, he called on his friends at Magic Design to guide him through the process.
Interestingly enough, there were a number of factors at play. While the dispensary was due for a new look, the strip mall where it was located was also undergoing a facelift. The mall’s landlord was making an effort to draw upscale tenants and made it quite clear to Dr. Yamada that he could lose his lease if the redesign didn’t meet certain standards. Armed with a high-end design proposal, Dr. Yamada convinced his landlord that the plans for upgrading the dispensary would fit right in with the mall’s new look.
“He really was in a position to lose his lease if he didn’t invest in a renovation,” says Margaret Furman of Magic Design. “We worked hard to give him the presence he deserved to have.”
This wasn’t the first time Dr. Yamada called on the expertise of Magic Design. In fact, the “partnership” goes back nearly 20 years. And with all those years, comes a great deal of trust. “The look we gave him really stepped it up a notch,” says Furman. “We took him from mid- to high-end and the response has been excellent. We even advised Dr. Yamada against re-using his old displays. As a rule, it doesn’t work out.”
Using a medium tone wood with dark trim helped define the space. Geometric detailing—diamond and triangular accents juxtaposed against a swirl-patterned carpet—give the interior a modern edge that is both subtle and timeless. A U-shaped island enables one salesperson to work with multiple patients and makes efficient use of the center floor space. By switching from a rod display system to glass shelves, Dr. Yamada has the potential to create unique display groupings and to showcase a wider selection of frames. In addition, the doctor added a wall-mounted flat screen television to a corner near one of the large floor-to-ceiling windows. The TV can be seen from the patient waiting area and from the exterior of the store—serving as a unique draw to those just passing by.
“The TV monitor was Dr. Yamada’s idea. He wanted to draw patients in with movement and color. His plan is to show different videos on eyewear and eyecare,” notes Furman.
Dr. Yamada was also driven to create a showcase for his Optomap. Magic Design recommended utilizing a hallway and adding partitions with graphic elements to set off this valuable piece of equipment.
Though the dispensary is only 550 square feet, the space feels open and airy and the large front windows bring in a great deal of natural light. The end result is a look that speaks volumes about the importance of good retailing in a professional setting.
Not content to leave anything unfinished, Magic Design suggested the good doctor also make a small investment in dressing up the bathroom. “We don’t do cabinets for restrooms,” says Furman, “but we felt it was important for him to take that step. A nice bathroom is a great way to show your patients that you truly care about their comfort.”