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Thu 11 Jun 2009 04:00 AM

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The warm up

With its new Dubai Mall outlet, Super Care wanted to make the transition from pure pharmacy to total wellness provider. Bluehaus was tasked with creating the interiors to match.

The warm up
The new store covers 900m².
The warm up
A rendering of Super Care Dubai Mall.
The warm up
Bluehaus selected Visplay shelving systems.
The warm up
Bluehaus selected Visplay shelving systems.
The warm up
Intelligent lighting was imperative.
The warm up
A rendering of the project.
The warm up
The designers went with ‘broken white’ flooring.
The warm up
A translucent panel was selected for the cash desk.
The warm up
An rendering shows the clean colour palette.
The warm up
The design had to counter a very high ceiling.

With its new Dubai Mall outlet, Super Care wanted to make the transition from pure pharmacy to total wellness provider. Bluehaus was tasked with creating the interiors to match.

For its new Dubai Mall store, Super Care needed an interior that reflected the evolving nature of its business model. So it called upon Dubai-based design firm, Bluehaus, to create a concept that would match its maturing persona. Rather than a pure pharmacy, the new store would be a complete centre for health and wellness.

"The brief was to merge their old store with this new wellness concept, to become more of a total health package, rather than just a pharmacy. They didn't want to lose their brand but they wanted to step further into being a total health concept," explained Tara Veldman, design manager, Bluehaus.

"We try, with everything we do, to ‘up' the concept. If you compare it to the other Super Care stores, this is a new, fresh approach to how they do things. They are trying to modernise the way they think about and do things, and we do that with all the projects we work on; we try and educate the client as to what's going on in the world and advise them on how they can move their business forward," she added.

In addition to offering a wide range of products covering all manner of health disciplines, the new store features small treatment rooms, allowing Super Care to offer everything from dermatological consultations to reflexology and other massage treatments.

"We have the ability to offer a range of different services. Whether they are chargeable or free of charge, we can offer value-added services to our customers. This whole layout gives us the ability to do that," explained deputy general manager, Super Care, Dubai Mall, Sherry Lubonski.

Size matters

Bluehaus inherited a large space - some 900m² in total. "I think it's the largest pharmacy in the UAE," Veldman said. This became a key influencer in the design, as the designers needed to ensure that the space was comfortable and didn't end up feeling oversized and overlit, like a supermarket.

In response, the area was broken up by a series of pods and divided into units. "We designed pods to break it up and give some definition to the store, rather than it just being one big space. We've also introduced areas that function as units. These are spots that define the larger space," said Veldman.

Material choices and intelligent lighting solutions also played a key role in ensuring that the space was brought down to scale and injected with warmth. Additionally, this was in keeping with the switch from a purely ‘clinical' space to a more inviting, enveloping, wellness-driven environment.

The predominance of wood, a real rarity in a pharmacy setting, is arguably the most visual indicator of Super Care's evolving personality. "It softens the whole clinical feel. The store needs to be clinical, obviously, but it also needs to be user friendly.

"It is not just about pharmacy, it is about wellness. Getting it through took a while - we had to convince everyone that you can actually use timber in a pharmacy," Veldman explained.

The end result has left the client entirely convinced. "The wood gives it a nice, warm feeling, which is different to our other pharmacies. They went with it and it was a great choice. I love having the wood look - it brings in warmth and it relates back to wellness," said Lubonski. "Pharmacies sometimes focus so much on hygiene and end up being very cold environments.

"In this shop, what Bluehaus has created is still a hygienic, clean environment but you've got warmth too. It's not too cold or clinical," she continuned.

Flooring was also selected to ensure that it didn't amplify the space. ‘Broken white' tiles were supplied by Icingtone Europe and RAK Ceramics.

"We did tiles on the floor because they are really hard wearing. We selected a tile that is widely used in retail projects in Europe. And it is matt, because that gives it a softer feel to the whole shop," said Veldman.

"We kept it white so it was bright and clean but not too shiny and glitzy. In a store this big, that would have made it look like a supermarket," she added.

For Lubonski, keeping this white floor clean has proven to be something of a challenge, but is the only aspect of the design that has presented any real operational challenges.

"It's just keeping this floor clean. That's the only real area of concern. Apart from that, it's all great," she said.

The floor colour choice was in keeping with the rest of a largely subdued colour palette. This ensured that the focus fell on the products, where it belonged.

"It was a really conscious choice to keep the palette very clean. The product in a pharmacy is so colourful and if you had too many colours going on it would just clash," said Veldman. "So we've tried to keep it clean and let the product really stand out."

Ensuring that the products were the centre of attention - and were presented in an efficient, uncluttered fashion - was a key priority in a store priding itself on the breadth of its product offering. This was one of the most technical aspects of the project and Bluehaus called on Visplay Shelving Systems for an effective display solution. "We had to come up with a shelving system that worked for a host of different things. We opted for Visplay, which is a shelving system that Vitra makes.

"It's a good option because you get to do lots of diverse things with it but it all fits into the same system. With such a big floor you don't want ten different systems or ten different things going on," Veldman explained.

This has provided Lubonski and her team with plenty of room - as well as a healthy dose of flexibility. "We've got plenty of display room, for promotions, or for highlighting products, or whatever we want to do. The way they have positioned the television also really attracts people's attention," she noted. This is reflective of how the whole Super Care experience has become that little bit more interactive. "We've put screens in the pillars. They can be used to advertise products but also to provide information on health and so on. There are also touch screens where you can actually print off any information that you need," said Veldman.

Mighty lights

But the project's piece de resistance, according to both Veldman and Lubonski, is the lighting. It was essential to draw attention to the products by lighting them effectively, but there was also the danger of over-lighting and impersonalising an already large space.

"Lighting is the signature element," Veldman said. "The lighting was one of the biggest things for this project because products in a pharmacy obviously need to be well it but, again, we didn't want to wash the whole shop in fluorescent light. So, we really spent a lot of time trying to get the lighting on the products and not so much in the rest of the space," Veldman explained.

In response, Bluehaus designed large, suspended, fabric-enclosed light features that direct the light on to the product without overwhelming the rest of the shop. "They give off a lot of light but are not illuminating the whole place. They light up the pods and spread some light around but not as much as if you had fluorescent lights all over the show. We used Barisol, a stretch fabric. The contractor actually made the light and then stretched the fabric around it.

"We talked about putting different coloured lights in there so you could change the lighting colour. They wanted to go with white for the start but after that they can opt for blue lighting instead, for example."

Having the lighting solution coming down from the ceilings enabled Bluehaus to overcome another spatial challenge: the height of the ceiling. "It's a high ceiling, so we had to think about what we were doing up there and not just down here," said Veldman.

Combined with recessed spotlights, recessed luminaires, and pendants from Ansorg Lighting, the overall lighting has been lauded by the client. "I think the lighting is fantastic and I like they way they have done it without a false ceiling," said Lubonski.

The project was an important milestone for Super Care, and an undeniable success, she pointed out. "We want to be a one-stop shop and leader in the pharmacy and wellness industries, so this is a big store for us. And I see us continuing with this model and building on it," Lubonski concluded.

Sources: FurnitureProduct: Visplay Shelving System Supplier: Visplay International

Sources: Floor Finishes

Product: Ceramic Tiles Supplier: Icingtone Europe

Product: Semi Solid Timber Flooring Supplier: Nordic Homeworx

Product: Carpet Tile Supplier: Milliken Carpet

Product: Ceramic Tile Supplier: RAK Ceramics

Product: Pebble Wash Supplier: BASF

Sources: Lighting

Supplier: Ansorg International

Ceiling Finishes

Product: Paint Supplier: Jotun Paint

Product: Semi Solid Timber Supplier: Nordic Homeworx

General Finishes

Product: Translucent Panel for reception/cash desk Supplier: Modarress Trading

Product: Hanging Ceiling Supplier: Barrisol Stretch

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