Engaging Dentistry Design like you've never seen before: the Craft behind the Magic

The question on the table was ‘How can we help showcase dental aligners in a way that makes them approachable, yet remain on-brand with Banning’s practice quality and interiors?’ As the top Interior Architecture and Design firm in London for Healthcare Spaces that are strategically crafted to outperform the competition, we were excited to answer it with a one-of-a-kind art installation that we can now share.

8 minute read

17th August, 2023 | Remarcable

25 years and counting...

That's how long Clear Dental Aligners have been revolutionising modern dentistry.

It's not a legacy we take for granted to be a part of, it is one we're proud to build upon through our workspace designs.

As the top Interior Architecture and Design firm in London for Healthcare Spaces that are strategically crafted to outperform the competition, we were excited when we were presented the creative brief to work with our long-standing client, Banning Dental & Skin Clinique on this project; a first-of-it's-kind Art Installation to higher engagement in a dentistry setting.

As a leader in the Dental Industry consistently winning awards for their quality dental procedures, Dr. Azad had the incredible ambition to take Banning's new Flagship location in Blackfriars to the next level not only in terms of design efficiency but visitors' wellbeing and engagement. 

The question on the table was 'How can we help showcase dental aligners in a way that makes them approachable, yet remain on-brand with Banning's practice quality and interiors?'

Dr. Azad has never shied away from innovation, and like many areas currently experienced by patients and doctors alike in the dental industry, he felt that most aligner options were too generic and not representative of his vision for Banning.

As Design Specialist, we agreed and recognised past efforts we've seen on the High Street simply were not appealing enough to provoke people to interact with the aligners themselves or Banning's Instagramable environment, as they only highlight results and not actual patient experiences or emotions.

And that's not surprising!

Why, you ask?

Because most people tend to craft services in terms of what they do, whilst we form designs to revolve around how people feel.

To translate this into something truly unique, we took this same approach.

Grounded in the questions and feedback Banning has received in their long-standing success and rooted in our background expertise in wellbeing and human psychology-awareness, a new concept was born.

From Day 1 to a Finished Smile - straighter teeth and stronger feelings!

'What do they look like?'

'What can I expect over time?'

'How will I feel with them?'

These are the types of questions every clear dental aligner patient seems to ask. To sum it up: 'what will my journey be like?'

It's natural to be curious and a bit unsure, after all.

But how do we use this emotion to fuel engagement?

From brainstorming to sketching, early ideas revealed to us that it would be the most beneficial option for us to explore a visual way of showing a patient's treatment journey so we could truly connect with what they are feeling.

After this revelation, we dug deeper.

Researching the ins and outs of the aligners, patients who used them, and what their biggest concerns were, we found that one of the main drivers for their use versus traditional metal braces was their appearance, followed closely by their shorter treatment period and natural look.

'What do they actually look like on?'

This is another question we found was popular, so we concluded that if these are huge considerations for people, then perhaps guests would benefit from seeing a patient journey come to life before them; being able to touch the aligners freely, joyously and up-close-and-person on fitted teeth like their own.

With this decision made, we knew we needed a way to cast the retainers in a method that was beyond ordinary, where usually dentists would only opt for a ceramic set of teeth and the aligner on top of them. This approach takes a more medical and stigmatised approach, addressing concerns in dental treatment, but does not typically spark the emotions patients have associated with them.

As our main design point with Banning is to create stand-out solutions and add elements of surprise, we tied our design process findings together to create something truly unusual for dental spaces.

Forget the left brain and right brain; our design is grounded in the whole skull.

Based on all of our research, we decided that using an element that was less predictable, like a skull, would be artistic. As a symbol, it has built up a reputation and a history associated with elements of rebellions, and has a unique, and may even controversial style... an expression of individuality, cool art, and quirky taste. 

Capturing this and creating a patient journey that made sense was of course a challenge.

But it was one we were happy to take on, head first.

With our freedom of expression in tow, we conceptualised, designed, and brought to life an entire patient journey in the form of 6 skulls, each a mix of personal creation, inspiration, and cultural art celebration.

Starting the Patient Journey: Skull #1

This skull was always in the planning from the beginning. We had an idea to do one specifically with 3-D elements as well as the art on the actual skull and decided to lead the project with it.

The chosen element was butterflies, initially because we had a beautiful experience with these spices on our trip to Australia; it was while there on holiday that we went into a butterfly sanctuary and discovered an enclosed garden with butterflies freely flying around us. It was an incredible experience with the small but gorgeous creatures landing on you if they like your colours enough. 

Since our designs are often inspired by our travels, this seemed as a great opportunity to incorporate something memorable for us. We specifically chose the blue butterflies as we became aware of a specific species that is common in Australia but extremely rare to see in the UK, and we wanted to model our work off of them.

Bowie's Symbol: Skull #2

You may be familiar with David Bowie's iconic symbol here and for good reason. 

A bit of facts in history: the flash was initially designed by groundbreaking photographer Brian Duffy, who shot the image, and it was physically applied to Bowie's face by makeup designer Pierre Laroche. The flash was actually applied with lipstick giving its striking and vivid red and the idea is that the flash was a symbol of something electric, a lightning bolt ... 

Like rock and roll as a genre itself, we liked that the first and only time he has ever worn the lightning bolt logo on his face was for the photo shoot for his 1973 album Aladdin Sane and yet this became such a historic piece of art and personality expression that it is now a well recognisable and memorable symbolism. 

People related to it, loved it, wanted to wear it on t-shirts, tattoo it on themselves, etc, and we found this to be inspiring. 

We added the glasses as a final 'cool' touch and the client's logo to finish it nicely.

Not the end of the line: Skull #3

Placed at the end of the first row of the exhibition yet always in the initial planning, this skull is based on Día de los Muertos, the day of the dead celebration.

This celebration itself dates back thousands of years, so it is an amazing piece of cultural heritage and art expression we believed would be an interesting addition to the installation. 

As we as designers have visited exhibitions throughout the years celebrating this event, we have retained a general liking of the artwork that accompanies such a phenomenal expression of culture, belief, and art.

Not to mention an explosion of colour.

This skull was actually painted by our leading designer Reni; she says she loves the concept that death is not the end of a soul's journey and that we should celebrate our love towards lost family or friends as equally as celebrating other holidays.

As Banning welcomes a diverse range of clientele and is renowned for their approach to making everyone feel included and cared for, this made it the perfect addition to close of the top section.

Halfway there: Skull #4

This one was fun to do!

Our design team was keen to join together for the wall scribbles section, and there was music on in the background.

This made the drawings look, and almost feel, like dancing. 

We called this skull 'a turbulent mind' or 'mind before meditation.' As mindfulness practitioners, it felt important to use art in this installation as a way to visually communicate what a busy mind might look like.

The electric signals of bright colours all mixing into each other, chasing an endless trail of thoughts and expectations; with these elements, we think that if someone can see their mind in this state they would want to take a deep breath and a moment to pause. Furthermore, maybe even do meditation, or even start a conversation with themselves about their mental health or state of mind. 

With Banning's clientele being health-conscious individuals, we feel that we can all relate to this piece of art and that it would be impactful to have in this position.

A new set of teeth in bloom Skull #5

The penultimate skull was a representation of our biophilic design element, and one we are proud of.

Addressing the importance of our green friends, we wanted to create a link between the living and plants, because they are an important part of our ecosystem and designs. 

We also looked at this skull as a metaphorical representation of a green mind, still young but growing and learning, one to be encouraged to be curious. We used one of our signature design pieces here - preserved flowers - and we specifically kept it all green to go with the theme.

These elements tie it together with Banning's overall branding and design elements, which incorporate natural elements to relax and nurture patients throughout their entire line of dental and beauty locations.

The big finale: Skull #6

We went through a lot of artwork ideas for this skull and non felt fitting enough with our overall theme and celebration of art and creativity. 

Until finally, it hit us.

The idea of 'Avatar' was born from the fact that the second movie was showing at the cinemas at this time and as huge fans of storytelling and cinematography, we felt it fitting to celebrate how the greatest can always return for more.

 It was relevant, recognisable, current, and exciting. 

We wanted visitors of any gender and age to get the reference and be like oh I know this one, while also resonating with our overarching messaging.

The finishing touches here were the 'Woodsprites' drawings on the wall, which may be reminiscent to Avatar fans as signs of sanctity. We felt like this matched our theme of symbolism and metaphorical representation as well as a historical, creative, and cultural celebration, so the installation chose it as its final piece.

Conclusively, the elements here look like flying jellyfish, and we liked how similar to the bird drawings in Banning's café area they are, both representing elements of movement.

Final thoughts: using creativity as a tool for engagement

The process of bringing this art installation to life has been a delight for us, but more importantly, has shed light on an area of dentistry that is often taken for granted; guest engagement. We're proud that this installation has been able to help Banning Dental & Skin Clinique with its mission to be one of the best dentistry options for patients in the UK, and hope that this success encourages more clinics to explore creative routes to engage with their clients and make dentistry more approachable for everyone.

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