2017 Interior Design Magazine Best of Year


Smile Direct Club is in the process of revolutionizing and democratizing access to healthy, aligned smiles.  They have developed a system that allows people to straighten their teeth with invisible aligners for a fraction of the cost of competitive offerings using computer aided rapid fabrication technology and at home delivery.  They turned to us to create their first flagship —appropriately located on Fifth Avenue in NYC.  Our charge was to create an entirely intuitive and inviting environment that clearly communicates the core values of quality, trustworthiness, accessibility, transparency, innovation and playfulness. 

Balancing openness and privacy was one of the most tantalizing challenges for this project: the space must be open and inviting but at the same time create privacy for people who are being fitted for aligners.  A second significant challenge was to create a design system that is flexible and allows for the young organization to experiment with a variety of merchandising and social strategies without looking cluttered or empty.

Our response was to deploy a series of perforated metal mesh dividers along the wall and ceiling. These scrim-like elements also support fixtures along the south side of the space.  When viewed from the front of the store, these dividers act like blinders, concealing individual display areas and lighting to visually unify the space. The view becomes more obscured as the scrim-like layers build upon each other, as the eye travels toward the back of the store.  There is also an intriguing moire effect created by the overlapping perforations, creating a dynamic effect as visitors move through the space. These unifying effects are counterposed by individual zones between dividers, which can be merchandised separately or together, allowing for a fully scalable display armature.  These zones reveal themselves as you move into the store, creating a more engaging and dynamic experience. At the front of the store, graphics and displays educate potential customers and casual visitors in the information gathering phase of the experience through playful graphics and interactive displays.

Towards the center of the store, customers can speak directly with friendly smile direct team members at a custom-made information desk. Once customers have committed to moving forward with the process, they are guided further into the space to the scanning stations. Six-foot-tall millwork elements partition this area into individual booths and provide shared storage and displays. These offer visual privacy but also allow a sense of connectivity with the larger space since they are open to the ceiling.  The brand voice carries through in the scanning stations with small details including the multiple “smiles” that serve as handles and access to storage and supplies. Translucent panels in the built in display niches allow movement and light to register between booths and enliven the displays.

A tooth whitening bar in the back part of the store continues the modular mesh system in order to create individual whitening stations along a single whitening bar that runs along the south edge of the space. The clean white space with repetitive elements is a gentle reminder of the positive and refreshing effect of a smile.