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Emotional Support

London, UK

Covet & Noir's interior design for private mental health clinic The Soke instils a sense of homeliness and calm into a therapeutic space

With its deep, comfortable white sofa, limewashed walls and furniture and accessories from a roster of contemporary Nordic brands, this space looks every inch like a sophisticated home. In fact it’s a private mental health clinic, created by design studio Covet & Noir to engender a feeling of safety and calm via its neutral palette, natural materials and layers of tactility.

The Soke in London’s Chelsea features 10 treatment rooms and offers services by practitioners including psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors. It represents the shift towards de-stigmatising mental health and seeing issues such as depression and anxiety as normal parts of life, much as we do physical ailments. However, The Soke’s CEO Maryam Meddin saw a disconnect between this normalisation and the clinical environment in which treatment takes place, even within the private sector. With a multitude of research now pinpointing the role that design can play in mental wellbeing – with everything from daylight to natural materials to a lack of clutter being shown to have a positive effect on mood – The Soke offers a sense of refuge.

The most important task was to create furniture layouts in each of the treatment rooms that were flexible – providing a choice of seats, but also avoiding any of the seating arrangements having their back towards the door

Covet & Noir drew on their experience as largely residential designers, while listening to Meddin’s wealth of knowledge about what design elements would best support patients. The brief called for “a non-clinical character space that was designed to shift the image of prevalent everyday mental health issues,” says Maria Lindgren, who makes up one half of Covet & Noir along with her co-founder Adele Lonergan. “We wanted to create an atmosphere that helped form a part of a positive client experience, encouraging recognition of the impact of physiological wellbeing as well as its relevance to personal development.”

A reception space/waiting area forms the heart of the scheme, styled as a relaxed living room with plenty of seating options, and daylight flooding in from the large period windows. Tactility is a feature here, with woven chairs, a vintage Mogens Hansen leather sofa and cushions in soft Tibor fabrics, and the designers have also curated a collection of coffee table books, beautifully displayed on handmade black ash bookstands by Livrest.

“We consciously chose a soft, neutral colour palette, paired with beautiful fumed-oak flooring that really injects warmth, and the concept was finished off with accents of blackened steel,” says Lindgren. These steel elements include architectural features such as the bespoke oversized doors and an original beam that has been left exposed. “All-natural materials play an integral role, setting the tone for relaxation and tranquillity by creating a homely and calm feel, with hints of imperfection,” she continues.

Each consultation room has been designed slightly differently, but always keeping to the palette of neutrals and natural materials, with antique overdyed rugs to add a wash of colour. “The most important task was to create furniture layouts in each of the treatment rooms that were flexible – providing a choice of seats, but also avoiding any of the seating arrangements having their back towards the door,” says Lindgren.

Relaxation pods have been installed, either for clients to wait for a session to start, unwind afterwards, or act as a space for parents to wait for children. They are furnished with woven leather daybeds by Danish brand Encoded and low-level lighting, with blackout curtains that can be pulled across the opening.

This is an interior where the materials have been deliberately chosen to improve with age, developing a patina and a lived-in look that will only add to the sense of ease that the designers want to instil. “I think each space gets better with time once it’s been used and enjoyed, and cushions and accessories moved around,” says Lindgren. “It helps with the more relaxed vibes.”