Clear vision: Vance Thompson designs offices with patient focus

Feb. 25, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Interstate Office Products.

When guests come to Vance Thompson Vision, the goal is they will feel like it’s the kind of place they would want to be even if they weren’t in need of vision care.

“We want them to feel like the coffee is the best in town, the seating is the most comfortable, and they can readily access everything they need,” Vance Thompson CEO Matt Jensen said.

“We care a lot about experience design. Our doctors and our leadership aren’t just fascinated by great vision. They’re fascinated by how people feel emotionally when they leave.”

When it came time to design the new Sioux Falls flagship office, Vance Thompson Vision started by asking a lot of questions among themselves.

“We talked about the senses that should be triggered by a place or space – and how interior design caters to all five of the senses, as well as how we look at the sixth sense – the interaction between the place and the team member,” Jensen said.

“So right off the bat, we found more information and research published by Steelcase than anyone else in the category. They’re the thought leader. So we knew we wanted to go with Steelcase for our office design and furnishings.”

That led Vance Thompson Vision to Interstate Office Products, the Sioux Falls-based longtime premier partner of Steelcase.

“For me, that was a memorable project,” said Kristi Christensen, IOP’s executive vice president, sales and design.

“We were engaged very early on in the process and sat in on almost all the construction meetings. My big takeaway was how impressive it was that no matter who was there from their team, the focus was always on the patient experience: how do we simplify the space, code the space, make patients feel like the space is for them and design the front and back of the house so it’s very intuitive.”

From the front desk, which was designed to be circular and welcoming from every angle, to the tablets used to check in and provide staff with patients’ names and images, “the whole team was all in on making sure the patient was the focus of everything,” Christensen said.

“They live it. They were a great group to work with, and they challenged us to support their priorities through furniture and planning.”

The reception area uses furniture designed to be mobile and configured for small groups. It can double as an event space when seating is easily moved.

“Often in waiting rooms, you see all the chairs lined up to the side of the room. And in those situations, it’s just like at airports, where people sit every third seat,” Jensen said.

“We wanted to create little groupings, clusters, for patient-customers and their loved ones.”

Vance Thompson Vision also chose some signature pieces, like a pair of chairs by its elevators, that create memory recall.

“Nobody forgets what they look like,” Jensen said.

“And we use furniture partly for wayfinding. So we chose different colors of chairs to signify different things within the building. We use them for overall comfort, so in some areas they are more loungelike and almost kicked back a bit, and others are more upright and not intended to keep you there long because you’re on your way to surgery.”

The large windows add a bright, airy feel to the space, Christensen said.

“They were very mindful that everything looked neat, so anyone seeing it from outside or inside knew it was an organized, well-orchestrated place,” she said. “Even now when I walk through, everything is clean and organized.”

The building at 3101 W. 57th St. is seven years old, but you’d never know it looking at the furnishings.

“It’s worn extremely well,” Jensen said. “It’s commercial-grade furniture, but we’ve put it through the wringer, and it looks essentially new.”

Growing together

The Sioux Falls office has grown enough in the past seven years that more space was needed for staff. So IOP worked with Vance Thompson to carry the same look and feel of the flagship office into a nearby overflow space.

“That space is not used by the public, but we still wanted our team to experience the same people-centered design that they would if they worked there,” Jensen said. “Our work areas and the furniture our team uses in their office are the same high-quality as in the original space.”

Vance Thompson Vision also has expanded beyond Sioux Falls. It has offices in five states, including Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.

It continues to use Steelcase products to furnish its spaces, and in many cases IOP was directly involved.

“In Omaha, for instance, the office is on a smaller scale than Sioux Falls, but they wanted to replicate the waiting room experience, so they did the same chairs as in Sioux Falls and definitely wanted to carry that feel into the offshoot areas,” said IOP designer Marcia Young, who has worked with Vance Thompson on several projects.

In Bozeman, Mont., the design was adjusted a bit to fit the setting.

“They wanted it to be similar to the standard established in Sioux Falls but also acknowledge the region,” Christensen said. “They were open to tweaking it to give it a distinct look for that community.”

While based in Sioux Falls, IOP collaborates through technology to help plan the spaces and coordinate the installation.

“They can work with us locally and not worry about anything,” Young said. “If we don’t travel to install it ourselves, we coordinate directly with a trained, authorized installer, so they don’t have any headaches and can just enjoy the exciting part of moving in.”

The initial relationship-building with IOP and Steelcase has allowed Vance Thompson to easily scale out its approach when developing additional offices, Jensen said.

“It’s critical that we deliver on the promise of the Vance Thompson Vision brand no matter where patients receive care, he said. “After designing and furnishing our Sioux Falls office, it really has been seamless to carry the look and feel of that experience through in other locations while making minor customizations along the way.”

In multiple offices, Vance Thompson also has used movable walls to add flexibility.

“They’re working out great,” Jensen said. “They allow us to adjust when we need a large boardroom, for instance, or space for smaller group meetings.”

Throughout the work, the focus of the vision care experts was clear, Christensen said.

“They were all about making their spaces the best they could possibly be, and that makes them such a great client to work with,” she said.

“They had big dreams and big visions and knocked it all out of the park.”

And for Vance Thompson, while the relationship began with Steelcase, it continued thanks to the work of Interstate Office Products.

“Interstate Office has kept up with our expectations and our growing preferences, and we’ve challenged them along the way, and they’ve responded,” Jensen said. “So we went with the product, and we stayed with the service.”

To learn more about how Interstate Office Products can meet your office needs, visit or call 605-339-0300.

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Clear vision: Vance Thompson designs offices with patient focus

With the right vision, incredible office spaces are possible. This team showed that in Sioux Falls and scaled out across multiple states.

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