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IUPUI's Herron students 'screen' IU's dental patients

Soon after renovations to the IU School of Dentistry's Patient Admissions division were completed, the clinical affairs faculty and staff decided that the remodeled area could benefit from an additional element of privacy to further separate the bank of patient registration desks from the nearby reception seating. They went looking for a solution -- and found it in the creative vision of two students from IUPUI's Herron School of Art and Design.

Privacy screen image

Gustavo Tovar Sr. and Rebecca Clune

When the dental school turned to Herron for help with the project, it soon had two talented and enthusiastic young collaborators on board. The school commissioned Rebecca Clune, a graduate student in printmaking from Ohio, and Gustavo Tovar Sr., a graduate student in furniture design from Venezuela. Together, they designed and constructed two large custom screens that were recently installed at the dental school.

The screens not only add an extra measure of privacy to the patient registration process, but their unique shape, abstract design and muted colors also lend a subdued, contemporary feel to the entire Patient Admissions area.

The project is believed to be the first major partnership between Herron and the dental school, and the IU School of Dentistry is delighted by the results, says Clinics Administrator Pamela Elliott, who was one of the dental staff involved with the project.

"We had previously looked at the design ideas of several local companies, but couldn't find a perfect fit," she says. "We were quite impressed with the Herron students, who were very thorough and professional. They were also excited to work on the proposal with us."

"This was another great opportunity for Gustavo and me to take both of our creative visions and join them together," says Clune, who has teamed up with Tovar on previous projects.

Patient Admissions presented the art students with an assortment of challenges. The screens needed to be both artwork and workhorse. The floor space in the area is tight and the foot traffic heavy. On top of everything else, the stability of the tall screens needed to be realized without permanently fastening the structures to the ceiling. After two months of brainstorming, first with the dental staff and then with one another, Clune and Tovar proposed two designs, one of which embodied the exact concept Clinical Affairs was striving for.

"The students cleverly solved the stability problem by building benches into the bases of the screens," says Rebecca Dixon of the dental school's Financial Affairs office. "In addition to serving as sturdy anchors, the benches can be used to display brochures or other information of interest to patients."

Clune says she is proud of the dental school's new patient privacy screens, and she enjoyed the opportunity to create an original piece of art for another organization within the IUPUI community.

"The best feeling was seeing dentistry's response to our design," Clune says. "The most rewarding aspect of any site-specific project is the excitement and the satisfaction of those that you made it for. Dentistry's participation and support was fantastic."