The hair salon 2.0 is designed for an experience

A visit to the hairdresser is a great deal more psychological than one might expect: one’s identity and self-perception is communicated to a stranger, who must then attempt to translate their client’s aesthetic ego. In many senses it’s a matter of passing over control, a vulnerable transaction that requires an environment that is sensitive to these fears yet functional. As much as the experience can be one of pampering and self-indulgence, this state of mind must be facilitated by a salon’s interior. Here, we look at five examples of spatial design guiding the engagement and relaxation of a hairdresser’s clientele.

Grande Class in Nagoya, Japan, is a men’s salon that focuses on creating individual spaces for its clients. Large, solid aluminum plates hang between the styling chairs, providing each client with a private space. Designed by Hiroyuki Miyake, the predominantly concrete interior is sparingly lit – creating a pared-down environment that is empathically masculine.

The large storefront of Grande Class in Nagoya, Japan, projects confidence and draws in passersby through seeing the hair cutting, styling and treatments in action. Photos Ricoh Adachi

In contrast, Texhair in Belluno, Italy, epitomizes an atmosphere of femininity. Raspberry velvet-tufted stools and fuchsia wallpaper are positioned against a matte bubblegum-pink floor and neon backlit wall panels. Architect Luca De Bona uses multi-era references to create a spatial collage designed to sit in the liminal space between then, now and when. Gold becomes the bridging material of the space, appearing in fixtures, mirror frames, product display units, and the moveable column-shaped stations.

Track lights arranged like pieces of confetti in Texhair, Belluno, Italy, create a sense of dynamism. Photos Massimiliano Zucchi

Meanwhile, in Taiwan, CJ Studio has designed a massive futuristic space for the training of aspiring cosmetologists. H Academy in Taipei is comprised of lines: directional neon illuminates the open workspaces, while hairdressing chairs face long, narrow mirrors that sit beneath spotlights. As a multifunctional space for education as well as service, the ‘classrooms’ are glass boxes that encircle the connecting common area.

The areas for washing and dyeing hair are deliberately open to the public for educational demonstration, while flexible partitions, curtains, and moveable salon chairs and workstations answer the dual needs of H Academy. The result is an educational space that manages to highlight the art of hairdressing as the act of providing a luxury experience.

Photos Kuo-Min Lee

With regards to material palette, the Nova Arts Salon in downtown Los Angeles is on the other end of the spectrum: a clay volume sealed within a glass box, the earthy interior is covered in raw clay tiles from Mexico. New York City-based designer Yoon Lee challenges the borders of interior and exterior with hexagonal clay blocks that partition the different areas and form semi-walls, which are open even while carving out the space. The warmth of the natural clay is an intervention on an otherwise modernist structure of glass and steel.

Yoon Lee layers the Nova Arts Salon space with wall-mounted details such as a bust of Medusa with succulents instead of snakes, and double-sided copper arrows wrapped in colourful threads. Photos Clayton Woodley

In Iwata, Japan, +tic architectural studio rejects the need to choose between design concepts with a theatrical set disguised as a salon. The interior of hair salon Toroa is split between the glossy white entrance and waiting area and the stripped-bare washing and cutting area. Architect Tomohisa Suzuki exaggerates the contrast between the polished and unfinished surfaces in a spatial statement of balance between natural and artificial. Even the lighting is differentiated, and moves from warm to cool.

The split interior by +tic for Toroa is divided between the glossy white entrance and waiting area and the stripped-bare washing and cutting area. Photos Yoichiro Suzuki

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