STUDIO K’s Industrial Zen Design for BIÂN Celebrates Three Years
STUDIO K’s empathetic design ethos still echoes through the 25,000-square-feet of wellness, work, and community spaces comprising BIÂN – Chicago’s premiere health and social club – some three years later in a testament to the multidisciplinary firm’s holistic approach and collaborative workflow. Housed in a bi-level commercial building, the comprehensive network of spaces – including fitness, recovery, nutrition, medicine or alternative therapies, socialization, and spa – feels more like a biosphere for living than the simple summation of programming that constitutes a typical luxury facility with a similar focus. Forgoing trendy finishes or Insta-friendly set dressings, which often pander to contemporary gym-goers looking to generate content for social currency, BIÂN’s interiors support the services provided instead of functioning as a backdrop for activities.
“We were sure to use as many natural materials throughout the club wherever possible: wood, leather, textiles, and lime plaster. In addition, we layered each of these in a way to create a sense of warmth and welcoming,” Karen Herold, designer and principal of STUDIO K, says. “[The challenges presented by austere industrial architecture were resolved] by focusing on highly textural, soft but light materials accented with moments of black wood and steel. And we worked with a talented lighting designer to wash the entire space in a glow.” Maximalist textures help minimalist interventions punch up for what all parties involved refer to as “industrial zen.” And minimalist touches create contrast by articulating historical elements to create a supercharged visual language.
Each ecosystem within the larger biome has a focus that caters to the moment at hand while allowing for artful transition into the next, which begins upon entry where guests are received at a round apothecary table. Members meander from program to program receiving subtle cues from a neutral-toned concoction of creams, whites, and taupes that gradually shift only to mingle with accents like inky blue furnishings and living greens. A change from linen to wool textiles plays with light and spatial transparency while the density of slatted surface treatments or wood grain patterning affects vibrations resonating from the room.
“Aside from the fact that our brand is built upon collaboration and integration of philosophies, the way that the design lends itself to allowing for each area to have appropriate space while being welcoming to the other areas of the club, is simply magnificent,” Mar Soraparu, Co-Founder & Chief Wellness Officer of BIÂN, says. “The color palette, unique features, artistic details, and the comfort and calmness of the lighting choices that allow for many activities to be done comfortably, and with a luxurious feel, exudes BIÂN while offering members pathways to live a more vital life however they choose.”
Additional Credits: JSA – Architect of Record; 41North Contractors – General Contractor; Mor Lighting – Lighting Designer