Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Posted on May 21, 2014 in Design
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Enter the office of Dr. Simon Lin at North Seattle Pediatric Dentistry, and you understand immediately that this is no standard dental office. Gone is the noisy room crowded with families wedged into uncomfortable chairs and grimy tables strewn with dog-eared magazines.  There’s no sliding glass window offering you a glimpse into a messy office lined with file folders, piles of paperwork and Post-it notes.

Instead, you enter into a modern, uncluttered space. The reception desk is bright white and clear of any debris. Only a large Apple computer rests on the desktop. As the office is entirely digital and paperless, parents are handed iPads, rather than clipboards, to sign-in their children and fill out any needed information. Children are given iPads, too, but for entertainment.

The waiting room is welcoming. Four distinct areas offer families comfortable seating and a sense of privacy. A Miele coffeemaker brews custom coffee drinks, while children play or read books in the reading nook.Apple.II.1977.102637933.fc.lg

There’s little art on the walls. Bright paint in white, blue, yellow and orange offer pops of color that meld with the clean lines of the furnishings.  It looks a bit like the Apple Store, really. And this is no coincidence. It’s actually by design. Dr. Lin used the design esthetic put forth by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and one of Apple’s first slogans, as his inspiration for creating his state-of-the-art dental practice. That slogan was: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. 

“I’m a minimalist and believe in simplicity,” Dr. Lin said. “Making things simple and organized is a real challenge, especially for a dental office.

We put away and hide all dental tools and drills so kids won’t be afraid when they walk into the office. My goal is to create an uncluttered environment that is not distracting, so that we may focus on listening to parents and kids. I wanted to eliminate chaos so the patients can focus on their wellbeing and trust me to help them in doing that.”

American Designer & Architect Maya Lin, (no relation), who created the powerfully simple Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., a nearly 250-foot long rock wall etched with the names of war dead, worked with Jobs for a time. She describes his design style in this way: “His design sensibility is sleek but not slick, and it’s playful. He embraced minimalism, which came from his Zen devotion to simplicity, but he avoided allowing that to make his products cold. They stayed fun. He’s passionate and super-serious about design, but at the same time, there’s a sense of play.”

Every element at North Seattle Pediatric Dentistry was thought out.

The same could be said about the design of Dr. Lin’s new office. Whimsical details such as the shape of a tooth hidden in the practices’ elephant logo, and translucent, brightly colored toothbrushes stacked in a light fixture add surprise. The office has few exposed cords or wires, all signage and implements are disguised or hidden, and a controlled color palette allows the entire space to flow as a cohesive whole.

On a recent Friday morning, Spencer, age 12, sat quite relaxed in an examination chair in Dr. Lin’s office. In his hand, he held an iPad. When asked how his experience at North Seattle Pediatric Dentistry compared to other dental offices he’d visited in the past, Spencer said, “I know I can come here and relax. It’s just more comfortable here.”

Dr. Lin smiled. He knew that young Spencer understood intuitively what the design of the office was truly all about—the experience and the comfort of the patient.

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