December 9, 2008


Totally Digital Office
New offices will have computerized diagnostic equipment and office management software all linked together to provide quick access to information from just about anywhere in the office. In the optical every styling table will have it's own computer. Multiple data collection rooms and multiple check out stations are a must to prevent bottlenecks and keep patient flow running smoothly even in a small office.

Design for Patient Experience
In economically difficult times the best way to make your practice stand out from the competition is to provide a great experience for the patient. The newest and most successful retail store designs take all of the senses into account. Hearing, smell, taste and touch are incorporated into the visual environment to create a sense of comfort. Optical offices can use a similar strategy to create a unique and memorable experience for the patient that makes them tell their friends about you and keep coming back.

The volume of sustainable materials for office interiors continues to expand, making it easier to find paint, furniture, fabrics and finishes free of unhealthy chemicals. Many commercial carpets now contain yarns made from recycled fibers. Being green is becoming mainstream.

Energy-conscious Lighting
LED (light-emitting diode) lighting technology improves by leaps and bounds. Prices have come down some but initial costs are still higher than for conventional fluorescent or halogen fixtures. However, LED's prove their worth over time with long lamp life and 60% or better reductions in electrical bills. Getting good color rendition for retail applications is still an issue. Most LED's are too cool (color temperature 5500K) or too warm (2700K). Some are available now in a 4200K lamp that gives a good balanced white.

Nature-inspired Colors and Patterns
The greening of America extends to colors inspired by natural materials. Greens are great for health care environments because of their calming quality. Dark brown and walnut wood tones are increasingly popular and work well with greens or blues. Spice tones provide warm but toned down accent colors like curry or nutmeg.

Gray is returning after a long run of tan and beige tone nuetrals. The newest grays are warm (pink undertone) rather than cool (blue undertone) and look great paired with walnut wood.

Dark walnut and medium cherry wood tones are paired with a touch of lime green for a warm invitation to the latest Morgenthal-Fredericks Opticians in Manhattan's Plaza Hotel upscale retail mall.

The two-toned wood floor in the Peter Lik Gallery (in the same mall) is so incredible it nearly upstages the amazing art photos. It certainly got my attention. I don't think I'd put a floor quite this bold in an optical because it would take attention away from the frames that should be the stars of the show. But it works for this gallery.

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