When history credits a man for introducing modern gynecology (yes, it’s true, his name is James Marion Sims, and he was known to experiment on enslaved women at that) it’s no surprise that OBGYN clinics receive notorious complaints as being a place of angst and uneasiness. Whoever decided that asylum-like patient rooms, harsh white lights, and cheap paper gowns would foster the cornerstones of a place where females get their reproductive health examined was probably not a woman. Let us introduce you to Tia, the healthcare clinic in New York City that opened just last week that's designed by women, for women.
All photography by Kezi Ban courtesy of Rockwell Group
What was once a popular digital health app, a high level of positive feedback from its users led Tia to open a physical extension of their brand with the mission of redesigning the sphere of women’s healthcare. Located in the Flatiron District, their in-clinic services include basic primary and gynecological care, as well as holistic healthcare like acupuncture. But there’s more—one of the most riveting aspects of the clinic is that every detail of the space, physical and experiential, were designed carefully to enhance a woman’s experience of the clinical process.
But what specifically does it mean when a space is designed by women, for women? Reduced waitlists, same day appointments, and evening and weekend booking availability are only some of the perks members can expect. Even more importantly, Tia's original app is thoughtfully integrated into the in-person experience; members can simply keep track of their health in the app's comprehensive wellness tracker, which doctors utilize for a deeper look into the patient's general health and habits.
The founders partnered with the LAB at Rockwell to help translate their online brand into a space—bright colored bricks, soft light, abstract fixtures and pastel murals commissioned by artist Alex Proba adorn the clinic's white walls, creating a warmer and engaging alternative to medical poster taped hallways.
"We interviewed all the women in our company and Tia's company to learn more about what their clinical experiences are like. Across the board, it was interesting to see so many negative experiences. We think a lot about how to connect people to their spaces, and there aren't many things out there in terms of women's care where there's a space created specifically for women by women," explained Melissa Hoffman, Studio Head at the Rockwell Group. "We commissioned artwork by women, and had women upholster the furniture that we chose. Everyone who played a role in building this clinic was a woman, who knew what they would want when going to the doctor," Hoffman said.
Each exam room is equipped with a closet for patients to hang their clothes and belongings, which afterwards they’ll have a comfortable kimono robe waiting to be slipped into. Patients can also say sayonara to the militant layout of the traditional waiting room, replaced with a “community room” that also serves as an event space during off-hours. Through an immersive and collaborative process, Hoffman’s team found simple design solutions to put hospitality back into the hospital, one of many ways women’s healthcare is improving, to which she adds, “I do believe this is a wave of the future, retail spaces around wellness especially are moving this way.”