Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Mention fertility services, and most of us could offer a description of what goes on there. But ask about the profession's typical work environment, and you're apt to draw a blank. Which is understandable. Despite the recent growth of this specialized medical field, there are still relatively few fertility clinics, and most that exist resemble the stereotypical doctor's office: confining, dull, uninviting. In a word, forgettable.
Shimoda Design Group's Jimmy Shimoda and his friend Haeyoung Yoon, first-time collaborators, raised the bar with Cha Fertility Center, a counseling and treatment facility in a Los Angeles high-rise. An antithesis to the cheerless norm, the 2,500-square-foot space answers the client's request for expressions of calmness and confidence in a welcoming, sophisticated milieu.
Entering the 500-square-foot sunlit waiting room, patients—usually couples, occasionally accompanied by extended families—check in at a stainless-steel desk with a glass-and-acrylic countertop. Low, boxy seating fronts a row of windows overlooking Wilshire Boulevard, and a curved enclosure screens the counseling room. Made of seven kinds of hardwood strips—mahogany, black and green bamboo, cherry, poplar, maple, and basswood—the screen was hand-shaped by sculptor Takenobu Igarashi. "If I had my way," Shimoda says, "I'd work with artists on every project."
Furnishings in public spaces are invitations to unwind and relax. Seating is plush and generous: ottomans upholstered in faux suede, banquettes covered in a heathered bouclé yarn. Suede panels surface walls in the reception area, while sheer synthetic curtains hide passageways to specialized areas. Throughout, basket-weave carpeting by Clodagh adds to the atmosphere of calm. The Zen vibe continues in treatment rooms, where neutral tones and soft-to-the-touch materials reappear.
The facility is, in short, elegant and spalike. Not to mention eminently successful. No wonder the design partners' seminal work has led to their delivery of phase two, a 1,800-square-foot addition.