ODE Dermatology fuses retail with hospitality-style service and hotel-inspired luxury to create a unique wellness destination. Housed in a heritage building on Melbourne’s premium Gertrude Street, a technology overhaul and sumptuous interior fit-out reflects the client’s dual medical and aesthetic philosophy: that holistic skincare should be an ‘ode to one’s self.
Establishing her very first independent clinic, medical dermatologist, Dr. Shyamalar Gunatheesan, engaged our studio to create ODE: a destination that draws on the tenets of high-end retail and hospitality to offer a holistic wellness experience.
The brief was to design a skin care clinic that didn’t feel like a sterile environment, but rather more like a luxury-inspired hotel. Our design strategy placed an emphasis on inner beauty, informing our conceptual approach: ‘Inside-out’ references the body through translucent and transformative materials, while ‘duality as a unity’ balances human with the high-tech, manifested through contemporary design insertions in a heritage context.
Despite a heritage overlay on the façade only, our studio elected to retain the entire double-brick shopfront and former residence (bar a small fiber cement board lean-to addition). This allowed us to restore original details and integrate them into a design that promotes the adaptive reuse of a Victorian building while adhering to stringent Australian regulations required for clinical treatment zones. Planning considerations were made for a dedicated staff room and nurse’s station, sterilization facilities, and the concealment of large medical equipment within custom joinery.
Maximizing its shopfront, ODE’s reception, and retail space (renamed ‘concierge’) acts as a beacon to passersby. Glowing, reflective, and opalescent surfaces are balanced by a dramatic, light-absorbing velvet curtain that leads clients down the clinic’s ‘spine’: a specially designed side extension, topped with a leafy lightwell. This intervention, as well as a ground floor extension to the rear, proved crucial to the functioning of the space and provided an opportunity to bring in diffused natural light and indoor greenery.
Clients await their consultations in the centrally located decompression lounge, furnished with designer pieces, soft textiles, and a lustrous, custom-designed houndstooth rug, while treatment rooms offer state-of-the-art therapies in elevated environments. A series of striking photographic prints throughout, heighten the multisensory journey.
Architects: Foolscap Studio
Photographs: Willem-Dirk du Toit