July 1, 2007

World's Narrowest Optometry Office

This little shop made me shake my head in wonder when I happened upon it in Florence, Italy. I thought I had designed a few incredibly narrow spaces in my time, but this one has me beat. It couldn't be more than 8 to 10 feet wide!

It must be an optometrist's office because you can see the equipment in the back room. The marble floor looks like it might be centuries old. But then EVERYBODY in Italy has marble floors!

The displays are nice–simple openings no more than 12" deep with beautiful wood frames, some with sliding glass doors for security. The "trade-show" style halogen lights are also a pleasing design element as they march down to the back of the office.

The two-tone wood reception counter is good-looking. The display on the back wall is brightly-lit, which helps draw your eye to it.

I can't help but wonder why they didn't switch the positions of the display and the door to the exam room. Where does your eye go when you look in this door? Straight back to the exam room! If the display was in that position, you'd be looking at frames instead of equipment.

This is a good example of designing almost everything well in a very difficult space, but missing the boat on the back wall design. I hope you never have to deal with a space this narrow for a new office, but this is proof that it can be done.

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