StudioSIX5 Puts the Funk into The Arbor at BridgeMill
AUSTIN, TX–As more providers shift toward incorporating hospitality-driven designs into senior living communities, it is critical to pay attention to more than just fabulous aesthetics. Spaces also need to be functional for the people who will live, visit or work there—even down to the tiniest and subtlest of details.
At StudioSIX5, associate and furnishings design coordinator Melina Robles and designer Stephanie Biesenbach have a keen eye for incorporating senior standards into designs that are more reminiscent of a ritzy hotel or modern multifamily development.
In one of their recent projects, The Arbor at BridgeMill, the client wished to include a “wow” factor in every aspect of the community’s design. From the grandiose lobby, the team brought each area to life by selecting elements with senior ergonomics in mind. In addition, these spaces do not look like the typical design details people would expect to find in a community for senior adults.
“We were excited to have the freedom to create an edgy and modern feel throughout The Arbor at BridgeMill,” said Biesenbach. “The overall ambiance and décor resemble a refined, rustic lodge or mountain retreat. Surrounded by an expanse of natural beauty filled with trees and streams, yet located close to Atlanta, we felt strongly about adding a contemporary flair. We used many natural tones, rustic tiles and rich woods, as well as custom carpets that are blue and curvy with natural elements to mimic a stream trickling through the forest.
“The owner wanted a grandiose entrance, which we enhanced with funky, unconventional furniture, playful artwork and an open space that spills into the bistro and living areas,” Biesenbach explained. “The stunning entry resembles that of a five-star hotel. At every turn, people will find a combination of textures, contrasting colors and statement pieces resulting in a fun-yet-sophisticated vibe.”
The art package is equally fun, incorporating sculptural wall décor, abstracts, landscapes and long displays of acrylic pieces. In addition to art, StudioSIX5 curated a stunning collection of unique furniture and accessories.
“There are many considerations when choosing furniture that is suitable for seniors,” said Robles. “We look for very specific dimensions, test the firmness of the cushions, ensure the pieces have arms and are easy to clean. The goal is to help seniors feel supported in their everyday lives and allow them to get up or sit down without feeling like they need assistance. Regarding cleanability, the upholstery seat decks are easily removable for staff to clean up crumbs or spills with ease and keep the furniture looking its best. We also use fabrics treated with a moisture barrier to prevent stains.”
StudioSIX5 started this project three years ago and worked closely with the client to really determine how to make sure the design exceeded expectations. As a visionary in the industry, Dean Maddalena, president of StudioSIX5, encourages all design teams to push the envelope while abiding by senior living best practices.
The team finds inspiration through travel, international interior design publications, five-star hotels, boutique hotels, local history fashion and flair, hospitality-driven establishments and even social media.
For this project, the team drew on modern elements from Atlanta, natural influences in the surrounding landscape, and the history of a nearby mill that the town is particularly fond of, hence the name of the community: The Arbor at BridgeMill.
The Arbor at BridgeMill is approximately 260,000 square feet and features 177 units, which are a mixture of independent living, assisted living, memory care and duplexes. The companies that brought this community to fruition are: Choate Construction, WDG Architecture, The Arbor Company and Aspire Senior Living. The community opened in the last quarter of 2017.