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SEATS OF POWER: Reception-area chairs exemplify Cameo Dental Specialists’ prevailing design aesthetic: midcentury, comfy, just a little bit funky.

West Loop Story

Some prominent corporate names call one trendy Chicago neighborhood home. To that August club add Cameo Dental Specialists, who have built an elegant new practice that’s patient-focused from start to finish.

By Kristie Ceruti
Photographs by Peter Tsai


CHICAGO’S WEST LOOP has undergone a significant transformation over the past several decades, spurred in part by prominent businesses: Oprah Winfrey established her Harpo Studios headquarters there in the late 1980s; in 2001, Boeing moved in from Seattle; and early this year McDonald’s relocated its global hub there, returning after a five-decade absence.

Cameo Dental Specialists might not command as much attention as those three behemoths, but the practice is a proud newcomer to the neighborhood all the same. “The West Loop is our fourth location and third new build or remodel the last few years,” says Cameo’s Dr. Vladana Babcic Tal, referring to active facilities in the Second City suburbs of River Forest, Berwyn and La Grange. “We’re becoming pros.”

That much is evident in the look of the new facility, which in part echoes the aesthetic of its new surroundings. “The West Loop is filled with old warehouses and loft-style buildings,” Dr. Babcic Tal says. “We loved the original space with its openness, large windows, exposed brick and high ceilings. Such a cool space to see.”

The days-of-yore vibe is augmented by more modern furnishings beginning in the reception area, where brushed-brass finishes and sleek velvet-upholstered chairs in a deep gem-toned blue exude the sort of lush, upscale sensibility the Cameo partners—in addition to Dr. Babcic Tal, Drs. Raymond Munaretto, Keith Sommers, Rick Munaretto, Michael Munaretto and Joseph Baptist—sought to achieve. (A view overlooking the seven-story atrium of the practice’s host building adds a visual thrill.)

Construction began in August 2017, spearheaded by Chicago medical-office contractor and design firm Apex Design Build. That followed a consultation at Benco Dental’s CenterPoint Design facility in Pennsylvania, a trip Dr. Babcic Tal calls “one of the best decisions we made.” The six-operatory loft was done just three months after work started. “I love everything about the space,” continues Dr. Babcic Tal, a member of the Incisal Edge 40 Under 40 in 2013. “The windows allow for so much sunlight, and the glass walls separating the operatories invite light to shine throughout the entire office.”

Function was of course as important as form. Cameo
patients come under the care of both endodontic and periodontic specialists, as well as oral surgeons; the equipment they encounter runs the gamut from top-flight Forrest chairs to an indispensable CBCT unit.

Finally, each operatory has its own speaker system. “The patient can choose what he or she wants to listen to,” Dr. Babcic Tal says. “Music, audiobooks or even watch a favorite Netflix selection. Everything is tailored to the patient.” Just like how everything outside, throughout the West Loop itself, is tailored to those (like Cameo Dental) helping make this ravishing neighborhood what it has lately become.


 SEATS OF POWER: Reception-area chairs exemplify Cameo Dental Specialists’ prevailing design aesthetic: midcentury, comfy, just a little bit funky.

SEATS OF POWER: Reception-area chairs exemplify Cameo Dental Specialists’ prevailing design aesthetic: midcentury, comfy, just a little bit funky.

 HEALTHY GLOW: Elegant vinyl plank flooring and ground lighting make the lowermost portion of the practice look as nice as the rest of it.

HEALTHY GLOW: Elegant vinyl plank flooring and ground lighting make the lowermost portion of the practice look as nice as the rest of it.

THE POD SQUAD: Coffee, tea, fresh flowers and inspiring aphorisms—all are part of the patient-first Cameo experience.

THE POD SQUAD: Coffee, tea, fresh flowers and inspiring aphorisms—all are part of the patient-first Cameo experience.

ALL NATURAL: Exposed brick and ductwork in the ceiling promote a certain industrial vibe at the front of the practice.

CHICAGO’S FINEST: (From left) Drs. Keith Sommers, Michael Munaretto, Rick Munaretto, Vladana Babcic Tal, Raymond Munaretto and John Baptist

CHICAGO’S FINEST: (From left) Drs. Keith Sommers, Michael Munaretto, Rick Munaretto, Vladana Babcic Tal, Raymond Munaretto and John Baptist

WHOSE WOODS THESE ARE: Dark cabinetry throughout, even in the sterilization area, provides a potent contrast to the walls and flooring.

WHOSE WOODS THESE ARE: Dark cabinetry throughout, even in the sterilization area, provides a potent contrast to the walls and flooring.

BLUES BROTHERS: Soft, plush comfort the color of lapis lazuli makes for pleasant pre-appointment relaxation.

BLUES BROTHERS: Soft, plush comfort the color of lapis lazuli makes for pleasant pre-appointment relaxation.

GLASS ACT: Ample windows and (at left) interior partitions help ensure a bright, airy office regardless of the weather outside.

GLASS ACT: Ample windows and (at left) interior partitions help ensure a bright, airy office regardless of the weather outside.

DESIGN TIP

“I’d suggest that doctors get involved in the design and do their own research on what’s important to them. Put some ideas together, look at other offices and examine sites online to come up with a theme—but then let the professionals do their job. My Benco Rep was there to make sure our ideas were logistically plausible. She had the foresight to give good advice and prevent future [problems] in both design and equipment purchases.”

—Dr. Vladana Babcic Tal

Contractor:
Apex Design Build

Interior Designer:
Megan Chuzas, Benco Dental

Dental Designer:
Paul Staritz, Benco Dental

Equipment Specialist:
Eric Swanson

Friendly Benco Rep:
Christina Catalano