Executive Briefing

Can design fix the dentist?

Creature comforts don’t help when the bigger system gets in the way.

Tend dentist chair studio
Courtesy Tend

A few weeks ago, a new dentist’s office opened in New York City. Unlike the hundreds (thousands?) of others in the city, this one — it’s called Tend — has already been backed with more than $36 million in venture capital.

It features, I’m told, the latest in dental technology, including panoramic digital x-rays, and has a friendly staff. And unlike most dentists, it already has a functional website for online bookings.

But what Tend co-founder and CEO Doug Hudson really thinks will differentiate his company — and make it a huge success — is a radical redesign of how a dentist’s office looks, feels, and works. Most people hate the dentist, and Tend’s goal — the big-text slogan on its website — is “Look forward to the dentist.”

Tend’s most immediate, obvious differences are cosmetic and experiential. Its first “studio,” in a street-level retail space in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, looks as if the design brief was to merge The Wing with an Everlane store and sprinkle it with an Instagram Museum of Toothpaste.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

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