“I am a very analytical person who has a research-driven brain,” explains Ida Banek, an entrepreneur and professor of psychology. It’s exactly this background and approach that underpins everything Banek does and that led her to deconstruct the beauty industry, in particular the patient journey, and co-found Ouronyx, a collection of high-end clinics with opening slated in metropolitan cities around the world.
“I woke up one morning, and I looked at myself in the mirror. It felt like a stranger staring at me,” Banek says. “It was very sad not having the positive facial expressions that I was used to seeing in myself. And it wasn’t how I felt from the inside. So I booked a consultation. I went for the appointment and had a really good conversation in Switzerland with an aesthetic doctor.”
But coming away from that consultation, something clicked about the aesthetic medical profession in general. “I was treated as a patient, as someone who was sick, as someone that didn’t have a lot to say around what would happen to their face.” A doctor in Switzerland, London, the Middle East, Banek realized it was always the same basic approach and attitude.
Having built a career in the corporate sector, beauty and aesthetics weren’t exactly Banek’s remit. But for her husband—Marc Princen, the former executive vice president and president of international business at Allergan, the maker of Botox—this was unequivocally his world. And together, they had the opportunity to create something extraordinary and unique.
In its design and attention to detail, the flagship in London’s St James looks more like a slick hotel lobby or a private members club than a clinic. Set over two floors and measuring in at 8,500 square feet, the art collection rivals that of a modern gallery, and includes a digital work by the British artist Dominic Harris — whereby a plume of black and gold butterflies respond to movements of any passerby.
There’s no waiting room. There’s no rush. Instead you’ll sit in elegant slow-slung sofas and caramel-coloured rattan chairs while scrolling through an iPad consultation form, flat white in-hand. And these forms are something Banek is particularly proud of. The result is something that feels more akin to a Myers-Briggs test than a pre-examination form. Banek wants to understand her client and for the medical practitioners to be armed with information like—how does that person like to be communicated with? What is their learning style? Their approach to decision making? Do they want fast facts and statistics or patience and hand-holding?
Next, it’s onto the lower ground floor, where the six treatment rooms can be found, alongside a c-shaped marble-topped counter with curving mirrors and comfortable leather stools for post-procedure make-up sessions with the in-house artists.
Similarly, Dubai, the second site to open trades in the extraordinary. Traditionally in Dubai, all aesthetic clinics are on Jumeirah Road. But Banek did not want to do the expected. “We have opted to open our clinic into a newly developed very vibrant part of the city, where you find extraordinary architectural pieces, one being the Zaha Hadid building, which is also where our space is.”
Regardless of the treatment plan or the location, what makes Ouronyx truly unique is the technology behind it. Consultations are carried out in 3D. Banek never wants someone to think of their features in isolation. This is the key to achieving a natural result. “I want to preserve what I have in the best possible way, rather than correct and change and try to build something that I naturally don’t have,” says Banek.
At Ouronyx the team will assess your face from multiple angles, and measure everything from volume loss to wrinkle depth, skin texture, pigmentation and bone structure. There is a real-time interactive screen on the central wall of every treatment room and live ceiling projects (if you so wish) during the treatment itself. There is a genuine commitment to raising the bar at every stage. “We’ll never just put a small mirror in your hands and tell you to take a look and see the difference.”