For most up-and-coming hair stylists with a unique creative vision, the road to getting their scissors on paying customers can be bumpy: getting their own salon is a prohibitive idea, particularly in the challenging real-estate market of the Japanese capital.

Enter Go Today Shaire Salon – and no, that’s not a typo, but a nod to its sharing-economy system. The Tokyo spot, designed by local studio Canoma, applies the principles of co-working to the world of hair styling.

This project is part of an innovative business model in a city with a crazily competitive beauty market. Previously, in order to operate somewhat independently, a stylist would have had to rent a station in a third party’s hair salon at a high cost, with little control over their own schedule and having to fork up a high percentage of their sales. With Go Today, the cut is considerably reduced and stylists can rent their own booths from one of the dozen available, along with six shampoo stations, several makeup seats and a staff lounge with a view of Harajuku. ‘There is an excessive supply of beauty salons here, which results in an increased risk for starting a business,’ explained Shinsuke Yokoyama, Canoma’s chief designer. ‘This project was planned with the belief that there is a demand for a good environment that enables communication between similarly active beauticians at a low cost through sharing salons.’

And how did the layout and the material choices respond to the logistical freedom this project provides? Yokoyama went against the grain, by providing freelancers accustomed to temporary work with an interior that could enjoyably endure the test of time. For instance, to highlight the choice of real wood instead of using a printed wood pattern, Canoma applied an oil finish that doesn’t change the colours of the raw materials much; the team selected elements, from plaster to stones, that exuded the good qualities of the materials themselves, allowing people to sense their changes over time.

The booths themselves were built with uniform dimensions that came from a highly inclusive design process. Yokohama tested his initial spatial theories with the target audience: he had several male and female hairdressers come in and use a mirror, a cut chair, a stool and a tool cart on long hair, to confirm their average arm span and adjust the dimensions and lighting accordingly.

There is a small change in the perception of the beautician by providing individuality through names instead of number labels

And while the booths are similar in layout, each one is named after a freelancer-friendly mantra, from Freedom to Empowerment. ‘There is a small change in the perception of the beautician and client by providing individuality through names instead of number labels, and I hope to provide the joy of wanting to come back again.’

The result? Monthly sales expectations are being exceeded and there are plans to open locations in other Japanese cities in the future. But could this shaire salon model also extend to other highly competitive beauty markets, such as New York, Milan and Paris?