With Bond Vet and Kindbody, Islyn Studio re-envisioned the healthcare space through the lens of compassionate hospitality, crafting an environment that anticipated patients, pets and staff's every need. Working intimately with the doctors and paying close attention to psychology, we designed empathetic, multi-sensory interiors that utilize tender touch points and calming scents to mitigate the stress and trauma often associated with doctor's offices.
Over the past few months, Islyn Studio has been re-envisioning the healthcare experience through a lens of hospitality. With our unique experience as hotel designers, we’ve helped develop two very special, very different projects that allow compassion and empathy to be at the forefront of great design: KindBody, a women’s fertility clinic, and Bond Vet, a new kind of community vet clinic.
For Bond Vet’s first location in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Islyn Studio re-envisioned the animal healthcare space through the lens of hospitality. Honoring Bond Vet’s brand initiative to “build a bond between pets and us,” we worked closely with veterinarian Zay Satchu to design an empathetic, multi-sensory interior that nurtures pets and the humans who love them. With design cues culled from such disparate influences as Dieter Rams and the Danish lifestyle philosophy of Hygge, we employed color, light, tender touch and calming multi-sensory activations to mitigate the stress and discomfort of the vet experience, while also providing the same spirit of playfulness and delight that our pets bring to our lives daily.
Through extensive research, we developed design prototypes that deeply consider the sensitive psychology behind an animal’s tenuous relationship with their built environments. Calming colors like grays, corals and blues, soft materials for sensitive dog paws, organic shapes, curved, comfortable furniture and warm, recessed lighting help create a space that is soft, friendly and inherently functional. Because BondVet is for animal urgent care with a wide-reaching demographic, we ensured the design felt inclusive, welcoming and openly democratic for people of all economic, social and cultural backgrounds.
Upon entry, cats and dogs are greeted with odorous treats, immediately grounding them in positive association. The open reception desk and seated iPad stations dissolve hierarchical levels and create free-flowing boundaries that mitigate nerves and prescribed movement. In the lobby, we built nooks of convertible seating, allowing pets to not have to sit within eyesight or scent of one another, yet flexible enough to host bi-monthly lectures, events and support groups for grieving pet-owners or veterinary doctors and technicians learning to cope with the often devastating aspects of their jobs.
We designed staff break rooms and employed soft lighting, comfortable furniture and a kitchen stocked with healthy snacks to encourage moments of mindful rest in a profession with staggeringly high suicide rates.
We collaborated with local artists for the lobby to paint murals in soft, natural tones, meant to offer a visual respite and beautiful distraction — sometimes necessary in situations of distress — and to help BondVet become a place both by and for the community. The lobby also features a boutique retail area, stocked with unconventional wellness items that encourage relaxation: essential oils, CBD for pets and their owners, and organic dog and human treats.
One of our main priorities with BondVet was to create a space that was tender enough to hold heartbreak. In the room where euthanasia occurs, we brought in the softest, most comfortable animal beds, dimmable lights and Sonos speakers that play pleasing music to pets at their most vulnerable time. For owners, we tailored the entire space for comfort in times of grief, with soft tissues, hot, herbal teas and floor cushions.
We considered the functional priorities of the space, ensuring every material was durable and easy to clean, but never sterile. With an unexpected juxtaposition of colors, textures and layers, BondVet feels like you’re visiting a friend’s comfortable city home.
We also worked with New York-based Kindbody to re-envision their IVF and egg-freezing facilities in the FlatIron district. As a woman-run business, we know the importance of placing the woman at the center of her own experience, especially one that could be otherwise uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing. Eschewing the cold and sterile environment of a traditional doctor’s office, we revitalized the space with curved lines, warm lighting, abstract art and organic shapes, mirroring the female form and providing a softer, supportive environment that functioned as an extension of the demographic.
We created spaces that fostered conversation and socializing, so women don’t ever have to feel alone. 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 re-design the interpersonal interactions between staff and patient.
We replaced all hard and cold touches with materials that feel tender and intuitive, exchanging cold metals for soft woods, crinkly paper on tables for organic cotton benches. Overall, we wanted this space to reflect the woman who moves through it — bold, candid and in control of her own destiny.