Foolscap Studio 9 ODE Dermatology

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Adèle Winteridge
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Jessica Humpston
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Samuel McIntyre, Aaron Shipperlee
  • Client
    Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan

ODE Dermatology, designed by Foolscap Studio, fuses wellness with hospitality service and hotel-inspired luxury to give Melbourne’s premium Gertrude Street a unique dermatology offering. Housed within a heritage shopfront, a sumptuous interior fit-out and technology overhaul 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, Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan, engaged Foolscap Studio to create ODE – a destination that draws on the tenets of high-end retail and hospitality to offer a holistic wellness experience. Working closely with the client during early branding sessions, the studio delivered a project that not only provides self care, but pays homage to the self. Named ODE, and framed by the idea of a ‘quiet ode to one’s self’, the design acknowledges the importance of taking time out for ourselves. This progressive approach furthers interior design practice through the consideration of human needs in a medical context, demonstrated through the provision and reimagining of spaces of respite, as well as the integration of human motifs within spatial and design elements.

The self and the body are referenced throughout the interior. The reception and retail space (renamed ‘concierge’) is defined by a curved wall clad in a translucent fibreglass skin. Brushed aluminium blades form shelves, sitting atop like a delicate bone structure, and gently curving behind a glowing counter that draws the eye and warmly anchors the space. Polished finishes — including mixed metals and remarkably-veined natural stone — represent surface and metamorphic change, while glass mosaic floor tiles and verdant greenery evoke cellular rejuvenation.

The brief was to design a clinic that didn't feel like a sterile environment, rather more like a luxury-inspired hotel. The designers’ strategy placed an emphasis on inner beauty, which, in turn, informed their conceptual approach. ‘Inside-out’ references the body through translucent and transformative materials, while ‘duality as unity’ balances human with the high-tech – manifested through contemporary design insertions in a heritage context.

Special rear and side extensions on the ground floor proved crucial to the functioning of the space, providing an opportunity to bring in natural light. Indoor planting was introduced through a suspended arbour, running the full length of the now enclosed lightwell corridor. A new punctuation takes advantage of this vista, allowing clients to await their consultations in the centrally-located decompression lounge – a luxurious re-envisioning of the ubiquitous waiting room, now with enhanced natural daylight, designer furnishings, soft textiles and a lustrous, custom-designed houndstooth rug.

For the treatment and consultation rooms, a technology overhaul was undertaken to make the site game-ready for ODE’s cutting-edge clinical capabilities, without compromising on aesthetics. Upstairs, period features are highlighted and juxtaposed against bespoke joinery pieces, including an O-shaped mirror in the dramatic powder room – an ode to the brand itself.