Contract Design | Megan Dwyer
February 18, 2020
Designer Islyn Studio
Client Kindbody, Gina Bartasi, Annbeth Eschbach
Location New York
Healthcare facilities are often thought of as sterile, unwelcoming spaces associated with poking and prodding, bad news, and sickness. But with the help of firms like women-run, -owned, and -operated Islyn Studio, healthcare design is evolving, incorporating wellness principles and hospitality ideals to create more inviting, friendly environments.
When Islyn Studio was approached by New York–based women’s health and fertility care company Kindbody to re-envision its IVF and egg-freezing facility in midtown’s Flatiron district, the studio chose a holistic approach to the design. Often, these procedures can be anxiety-inducing and uncomfortable for women, which is why avoiding the cold, sterile ambiance of a traditional doctor’s office and changing the way people perceive and experience a clinical environment was a critical desire of Kindbody’s. And as a studio that generally designs hotels and restaurants—this was Islyn’s first-ever project in the healthcare sphere—the design team had no problem looking at the project through a hospitality lens.
“I think that our experience working with high-volume restaurants like the ones you’d find at a Disney park was really helpful in giving us the understanding of durability and how you don’t have to sacrifice design for cleanability,” says Islyn Studio founder Ashley Wilkins.
Approaching the project just as the firm would a boutique lifestyle hotel, Islyn Studio revitalized the space through curved lines, warm lighting, abstract art, and organic shapes, mirroring the female form and creating a softer, warmer environment that functions as an extension of the demographic. Formerly cold, metallic touches were replaced with tender, intuitive materials such as soft woods and crinkly paper on tables. “We created spaces that foster conversation and socializing, so women don’t ever have to feel alone,” says Wilkins. “With our branding and identity, we introduced a sense of humor and a lightness, removing the stigma of the fertility experience, even going so far as to redesign the interpersonal interactions between staff and patients.”
Aside from being inspired by hospitality values, Kindbody drew upon concepts of some of the most successful coworking spaces, including The Wing, private clubs like Soho House, and lifestyle hotels such as Ace—specifically the range of programs that change from morning to evening in these spaces. Kindbody is a multifunctional space that serves more purposes to women than just the service they’re coming in for. Thanks to a mobile reception desk and flexible seating, the space can be broken down to host parties and meetups, as well as talks and seminars, like “Egg Freezing 101.” A retail component in the lobby sells products in partnership with like-minded brands, such as soothing fragrances, prenatal vitamins, body oils, and other items that complement the experience of going through the fertility process.
“For us, we are first and foremost a hospitality firm, but when special healthcare clients like Kindbody come to us with a goal of changing up a dated industry, it is definitely exciting to be on the forefront of that movement and help drive the narrative for things that impact all of our daily lives,” Wilkins says. “Our goal is to be able to give people great design in the most unexpected places, whether that be a boutique hotel, a vet clinic, or where you go to freeze your eggs.”
Client Kindbody, Gina Bartasi, Annbeth Eschbach
Architect Zacs Intl.
Interior designer Islyn Studio
Islyn Studio project team Ashley Wilkins, Emily Febrizio
Contractor Michael Ghaida
Procurement Denzil Martin
Wallcoverings Brick It
Paint Benjamin Moore
Hard flooring Lumber Liquidators
Floor/table lamps Victoria Morris
Pendants/chandeliers West Elm, Rich Brilliant Willing, Noguchi
Sconces Rich Brilliant Willing
Window treatments Maharam
Workstation/task seating Poppin
Lounge/reception seating France and Son, IKEA, Rove Concepts
Patient seating Hay
Architectural/custom woodworking Michael Ghaida
Planters/accessories West Elm, Oak and Fort, Stillhouse
Textile treatments/finishes Crypton
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