A cozy fire burns in the waiting room’s fireplace. There’s a cowhide rug on the floor and antlers on the wall, along with a photograph of an imposing mountain peak. A woman wearing a lovely silk dirndl – a traditional and somewhat revealing Bavarian dress – walks in and asks what we would like to drink.
Is this part of some Alpine idyll? No. The fire place is really a flat screen, and we’re not in the mountains, we’re in Munich – at the orthodontic practice of Marie-Catherine Klarkowski, where she and her staff wear dirndls instead of white smocks. The male staffers, of course, wear lederhosen.
Klarkowski first got the idea about two years ago to give her clinic – called “Relax & Smile” – an Alpine Bavarian makeover. Gradually, more and more authentic touches were added: wooden benches, the women’s magazines in the waiting area were replaced by mountaineering magazines, and a receptacle containing fresh pretzels took up its place in the reception area. Patients sometimes got into the act, contributing items like cowhide-patterned mouse pads. At first, staffers only wore traditional clothing on holidays and during Oktoberfest. Now they don it every day.
The reason for this, says Klarkowski, 42, is that it relaxes and distracts patients so they’re not so focused on the real reason they’re here.