Nice ‘n easy

The last thing a busy salon needs is to have its stylists and clients constantly vying with one another for space. But Calgary’s HedKandi is known as much for its creative style as it is for its creative stylists – and the owners’ desire to optimize limited space needed to be balanced with their desire for a contemporary style that would complement their trendy new location in downtown’s Hotel Arts. And so they turned to ORDA, a Calgary firm they had worked with on four previous salon designs. 

The challenge, according to senior designer Doris Martin, was to develop an understanding of the stylist’s flow and interactions with clients. When a typical Saturday could mean upwards of 45 people moving around the 3,000-square-foot space at any one time, it was important, says Martin, to keep it as open as possible and streamline even the most mundane aspect.

Counterintuitive to many designs that look to a lighter feel to create spaciousness, ORDA instead chose to create a balance between light and dark. “I don’t really agree that you have to keep things light when you have a small space,” says Martin. “I think sometimes that darkness can create intimacy, and by letting other items hold the weight in the space, you can avoid causing the ceiling to feel lower or to feel like the walls are coming in.” 

The designers created a backdrop that was light and ethereal, while adding an eclectic selection of colourful accessories, furniture and artwork. They created counterbalance and anchored the design with a high-gloss black epoxy finish for the floor and customized dark millwork. Architectural elements also serve to define the space and organize the various services within – from the irregularly formed and coloured dropped ceiling in the entryway to the reception desk flowing directly into the workspace. 

Even the extended-length countertop, where stylists mix colours and prepare solutions, was designed to be atypical by being open to the rest of the salon; while the more typical aspects of the salon, including washing sinks and drying areas, are designed away from outside walls to avoid the boxlike feeling such placement can effect. It’s this desire for openness that also led ORDA to create a series of low division half-walls that give the illusion they are being “pushed” up through the rubber-looking surface of the floor. These emanations also serve to offer the salon a practical solution for housing their electrics. 

By offering HedKandi a balanced design, ORDA maximizes both the flow and the style of the salon, without ever making the space feel small.  cI