This month we talk to Jean Akerman of Jean Akerman Design Incorporated.
Jean is a Toronto based dental office designer who helps to create unique dental office spaces. Her clients include dentists who are MCC customers. Read on to learn how Jean got started in the business and to hear her recommendations for new dentists setting up their first practice. Click on the image above to view the gallery.
Interview By Helen Bullingham
MCC: Tell us about yourself. How did you get started as a designer for dental offices?
JA: I always had an inclination for architecture and design. As a teen, I had summer jobs at CMHC, where I came across layout plans of houses when people were applying for mortgages. I loved reviewing these and imagining how I could make the room arrangements look better. So it wasn’t surprising that I eventually found myself in the Environmental Design program at OCAD. I started in residential design. A cold call to one of the dental equipment companies led to an interview and a subsequent contract position. My experience in the residential field had inspired a unique approach to dental office design; I was able to help dentists create a more personalized, innovative, and inviting atmosphere, different from the cookie-cutter designs of the past.
MCC: What changes have you seen over the years in how dentists choose to design their office space?
JA: Over the years, dentistry has become more and more competitive. As a result, dentists want to make their practices distinct from their competitors up the street; in their physical office environment, in the services they offer, and in the way in which these services are delivered. The “dental spa” concept was created to address patient comfort. In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on patient safety. So many dentists have been investing in water filtration systems, clean air technology, and state-of-the-art stericentres & dental equipment. Dentists are very proud to promote these safety aspects to their patients. As a designer, I am really happy to see the safety trend and to accommodate safety features into the office design.
MCC: Tell us about how you approach space and design in a new dental office? What are some key considerations?
JA: There are several considerations in our design approach, all very important. First, the space must be manipulated in such a way as to be practical, facilitate efficiency in the office, and support day to day functioning. This means locating and sizing treatment rooms and common area appropriately, and addressing issues like cross-contamination while respecting current Building Codes. Secondly, we try to develop the space plan with a concept in mind, and this concept becomes the driving force for the design of the interior. We are also always conscious of patient well-being, so our designs must reflect attention to the details that will help create a sense of trust, comfort, and tranquility.
MCC: What role does MCC dental furniture play in your recommendations to clients?
JA: I am happy to say that MCC has made great headway in their cabinetry designs. The choices in finishes are better than ever, and the look is modern, sleek, and clean. I am impressed with the material available on their newest Sterilization Center too. The customization that is offered is a great benefit, and the feedback I have received from clients is positive. I have no hesitation in recommending MCC’s dental cabinets.
MCC: What advice would you have for new dentists starting out building their first dental office?
JA: It’s very important to select a good project team that can be relied upon to make the process go smoothly: (1) A designer who understands your vision, who will guide you expertly through the many detailed decisions involved in creating the office layout and interior elements, and who is committed to the successful outcome of your project; (2) A dental equipment representative that is knowledgeable, and who will attend to not only the purchase of equipment, but also the technical aspects of the installation; and (3) A good general contractor who understands dental office construction, and who will deliver a great finished product, on time and on budget. Lastly, keep in mind that a new dental office is a long-term investment. The design of the office, the choice of equipment, and the contractor’s workmanship will all affect a patient’s “first impression”. Get the best your budget allows because your office environment is ultimately a reflection of the quality of care you are offering your patients.
For more about Jean visit www.jeanakermandesign.com
Photos courtesy Kemp & Borovac Dentistry, K-Dental and Clarington Dental Centre.
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