A new generation of hair salons and barber shops are reinventing the look, function and layout of the traditional salon. No longer merely a spot to get a trim, colour, blow-dry or shave (while catching up on gossip), modern-day salons and barber shops are turning into multi-functional, border-crossing spaces that put the client’s needs in focus.
While some decide to throw gastronomy, art and retail into the mix, others choose a subtler approach to this evolution, exploring how alternate designs, structures and layouts can change the salon experience at its very core. Here are seven hair salons and barber shops that have chucked out the rulebook to reshape the conventional salon.
Vine, Kobe, Japan
Japanese design studio Sides Core, made up of husband and wife duo Sohei and Sumiko Arao, are behind a number of the country’s most pioneering independent hair salons. On the second floor of a small convenience store nestled among the small streets in the ancient city of Kobe is Vine, a salon that uses the idea of grapevines as a metaphor for the owner’s desire to interconnect all aspects of the space.
The vine, a plant that has the unique ability to grow individually and then accrete, is visualised through light fixtures wrapped around curved ceiling pipes. As a place to ‘not just receive a haircut, but also to enjoy spending time in, perhaps reading a book’, the salon was outfitted using furniture designated for home-use, rather than traditional salon equipment.
Kinki Kappers, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Despite its name, there’s nothing twisted about Dutch hair salon Kinki Kappers – except for their wickedly avant-garde cuts and colourings, honed at the brand’s network of 40 spaces. Kinki’s latest outpost, in the small southern town of Tilburg, is an experiment to see how well coffee mixes with haircuts – a dual concept that may be rolled out across other salons.
Housed in a grand red brick building, the space features rough-luxe interiors – with original ceiling mouldings, vintage seating and fluorescent coffee tables – that feel akin to a private home. Barista Eelco Leijten sources the beans from Amsterdam-based coffee roaster Bocca Coffee, and has already gained a reputation for the ‘best cup of coffee in town’.
Apartment + LIM, Osaka, Japan
With impersonal walk-in hair salons in abundance, Japanese designer Teruhiro Yanagihara offers a refreshing look into salon dynamics, acknowledging the very intimate bond between a hair stylist and their regular client. At one of Japanese hairdresser Less is More’s Osaka locations, the 397 sqm space is divided into six secluded rooms – so called ‘boxes’ – that are individually furnished to fit the residing stylist’s personal tastes and needs.
Resembling a private room in an apartment block, the innovative structure professes what many of us have known all along – that one comes to see their favourite stylist, rather than visit the salon itself.
Fellow Barber, San Francisco, US
Sam Buffa’s Fellow Barber (formerly known as F.S.C. Barber) is considered the driving force behind recent year’s barber shop renaissance. The San Francisco outpost, which opened in 2011, has become a quintessential meeting place for men in the very heart of the Mission District.
The curved bench, constructed by local woodworker Brian Eby, takes centre stage as a congregational spot, while a retail space offers a chance to stock up on a carefully curated selection of garments, accessories, shoes, vintage books and other hipster essentials.
Miega, Seoul, South Korea
Korean design practice Bang by Min is the mastermind behind Miega, a salon where an entire mini-village is involved in the creating of a new do. Inside the 124 sqm space, clients are lead through a collection of gabled structures.
Each modular house-shaped unit offers its own service, from washing and cutting to styling and simply relaxing. To return to the idea of a hair salon as a venue for neighbours to meet and as a place for cultural and public community, Miega also serves as a gallery, exhibition space, café and event location when required.
Atelier Josh Wood, London, UK
Quite a few shrieks with excitement could be heard back in 2011, when globally acclaimed British hair colourist Josh Wood opened the doors to his ‘anti-salon’ Lansdowne Atelier. The Notting Hill concept salon, which gave the beauty industry a much needed breath of fresh air, is a hub where the cutting and colouring of hair takes place in a contemporary, ever evolving space with specially commissioned artwork, a vertical garden designed by Emulsion Architecture, as well as a private concierge and gourmet chef at hand.
Regulars let themselves into this shrine dedicated to hair using their very own key.
Harry’s Corner Shop, New York, USA
The Corner Shop in New York is men’s grooming brand Harry’s first offline brand extension, taking the shape of a 1920s barber shop. The brand, conceived by Warby Parker co-founder Jeff Raider and business partner Andy Katz-Mayfield, has gained praise for its affordable razor blades, which are sold through an e-commerce platform.
The new space fuses online and offline through an in-store app that allows barbers to make notes of previous cuts, shaves and purchases in individual digital profiles, while customers can flick through Five O’Clock, Harry’s very own digital magazine. The barber shop doubles as a retail space, featuring Public Supply notebooks, Caran d’Ache ballpoint pens, Makr leather goods and Sleepy Jones boxer shorts.