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Denis Villeneuve’s Dune inspires cosmetic clinic design by Nickolas Gurtler Office

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune inspires cosmetic clinic design by Nickolas Gurtler Office


Australian Design Review (ADR) probes Melbourne-based interior designer Nickolas Gurtler about the creative process that saw him borrow set details from the Dune films for a small cosmetic medicine practice.

Tahnee Raine is a new cosmetics consultation space and treatment room in Ivanhoe, Victoria, with serene interiors that inject a dose of serenity into traditionally sterile clinic design.

Tahnee Raine

Nickolas Gurtler Office received a brief to create a space that reflected the brand’s ethos of ‘considered naturality’. Small in size, Tahnee Raine required acute attention to detail, a sense of warmth and timelessness, and concealed medical practicalities.

The concept began with the set design of the recent Dune film franchise. Inspired by Mesopotamian ziggurats and brutalist architecture dotted with 1970s references, Dune presents a neutral yet rich series of fantastical environments. Gurtler translated its desert-like planetscapes and timeless yet futuristic set details through a more terrestrial lens for Tahnee Raine.

The results break the mould of clinic design. ADR asked Gurtler to delve more into the final design decisions below.

Tahnee Raine clinic

ADR: Was the Dune concept your idea? Could you describe the moment the concept struck? 

Nickolas Gurtler: Dune was my idea. A lot of my work is inspired by set design, particularly science fiction as it’s so otherworldly and imaginative. I’d heard about the film and was a big fan of the art direction and set design of Blade Runner 2049 that Denis Villeneuve also did, so thought I’d watch it. 

I remember watching the film and pausing it every few minutes to look at an incredible detail or a magnificent structure and identifying beautiful materials, details and textures. I’d started thinking about the design for Tahnee Raine around the same time and the concepts of the film hovered in my consciousness for weeks as we began concepting and I kept coming back to the film.


ADR: Your previous work on a cosmetics clinic – Ocean Cosmetics in Perth – won the Institutional category at IDEA 2023. Were there lessons learned from Ocean Cosmetics that you applied to Tahnee Raine? 

NG: We began developing treatment room joinery that concealed medical equipment like syringes and scalpels with a dropped counter design at Ocean Cosmetics. It was a huge success with their patients as it meant that they weren’t anxious because they couldn’t see scary medical things. We continued those design protocols through to Tahnee Raine and other projects we are working on in the same field. We also learned a lot about the patient experience and how we could use design to influence it, such as providing a captivating light fixture to look at while they stare at the ceiling. Aesthetically, we felt that limewashed paint was an incredible material, which we had used at Ocean Cosmetics, and we were very eager to implement it again in this project. It helped to soften some of the harsher lines in the space.

Cosmetic clinic

ADR: What does ‘considered naturality’ mean to you and how do you feel the design captures this brand ethos? 

NG: We felt it meant a sculpted and decisive approach to nature, where every detail has been thought about and shaped while retaining the beauty and integrity of what nature provided. We kept this ethos front of mind while crafting the design. The concept is woven into every aspect of the design, from the way the exclusively natural materials are shaped and refined – exemplified in the use of natural bronze light fixtures and tapware – taking something raw and earthy and refining it into a sculpted form while allowing the beauty of the material to shine through. This is also true in the forms we used, like the joinery unit, which merges travertine and oak to create beauty.

ADR: You’ve described the design of this project as “timeless”. What is your idea of timeless design? 

NG: Timeless, to me, is very multifaceted. It refers not just to the aesthetics but also to the sustainability of the design. When it comes to aesthetics, it refers to design that is informed by history, relevant to the now, yet speaks to the future. It maintains a ‘contemporary heritage’ about it. In a way, I see it as the antithesis of ‘trendy’. 

When it comes to sustainability, it speaks to the design’s ability to survive the rigours of use yet patina gracefully so that it will not need to be replaced; it will stand the test of time. When a design can maintain those qualities, I feel it can be described as timeless.

Tahnee Raine

ADR: Could you take us through some of the furniture choices? Any favourites? 

NG: Each of the pieces was chosen for its sculptural and textural quality. My favourite piece is the Ruff chair by Patricia Urquiola from Moroso. We selected an incredible fabric best described as “fluffy”, which has a handwoven feel to it and is super comfortable.

Ruff chair by Patricia Urquiola

ADR: Do you think medical (both cosmetic and healthcare) interior design is generally moving away from a clinical aesthetic and atmosphere? 

NG: Absolutely. We’ve completed five projects for various clients across the country in this space with several more in development. We’re excited to be forging a new path in this effectively new category of design. For such a long time, medicine of any kind has been cold, sterile, uncomfortable and an afterthought, yet it forms an important part of the patient experience. 

When it comes to cosmetics specifically, we’ve been working to create environments that shift the psyche of the patient to more of a luxury beauty ritual or self-care experience, helping to abate shame and stigma that can be associated with cosmetic procedures.

Tahnee Raine sink

Photography by Timothy Kaye.
Answers have been edited for clarity.

Read more about Ocean Cosmetics in our Q&A with Nickolas Gurtler from 2023.


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