Soho salon by JaK Studio gathers patrons around a fire pit

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Salon 64 by JaK Studio

Soho salon by JaK Studio gathers patrons around a fire pit

JaK Studio has designed a hair salon in London's Soho, where customers get their hair cut and coloured while seated at giant jewellery boxes arranged around an open fire.

Inlaid with a mirror, dark stained oak veneer and purple velvet, the boxes provide clients with everything they might need including a place to safely store jewellery, charge their phone and set down a flute of champagne.

Architecture and design practice JaK Studio was commissioned by hair stylist Ricky Walters to "revolutionise" the standard design of a hair salon.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

"We were reclaiming the original meaning of the word salon, as a social an intellectual hub," project architect Ricardo Alba Gonzalez told Dezeen.

"It's a place people could come not just for beauty treatments but a place to chill out, to exchange ideas and knowledge."

The name Salon 64 is a nod to Madame du Pompadour, the mistress of French King Louis XV and patron of architecture, philosophy and the decorative arts.

Madame du Pompadour, who died in 1764, frequented the salons of Paris before catching the attention of the king, and moved in the same circles as the Age of Enlightenment philosophers.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

Also known as le Siècle des Lumières, or the Century of Lights, it ran from 1715 to the 1789, when the French Revolution overthrew the monarchy.

The open fireplace, which is set into a Corian worktop, is intended to both visually represent enlightenment-era ideals, and gather visitors together while bathing them in flattering light.

"We looked at what the hair salon industry is doing these days and it hasn't evolved as much in terms of the space," explained Gonzalez.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

"With chairs facing a wall with a mirror there is no place for interaction apart from the one you might have with your hairdresser, it wasn't a place where you'd go to socialise," he added.

"We were aiming to solve all of the problems that you normally face in a hair salon from a design point of view."

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

The jewellery box lids can be lifted from the countertop to create a screen around the client seated at the bioenthanol-fuelled firepit, preventing any hairspray-related hazards.

"There's a place you can make yours in the salon," said Gonzalez. "It's an interaction between the space and yourself, as well as a space for social interaction."

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

The lids can be snapped back down if clients come in with friends and wish to chat. Beauty treatments such as manicures can also be performed at the bar at the front of the salon.

The cutting stations around the fireplace are the centre around which the rest of the space revolves, and JaK Studio chose to reflect this in the colour scheme.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

A regal blue wall and dark stained oak panels on the wall are highlighted by a large smoked mirror and the brass canopy over the fireplace, which has been stamped with a repeating pattern of the salon's logo.

The wood panels match the interior of the jewellery boxes, and the purple velvet can also be found at the back of the shelves behind the bar to the front.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

"We tried to use a classic colour palette that feels luxurious and really high end but with a modern edge," explained Gonzalez.

The other beauty treatment spaces have been realised in monochrome white or black. The hair washing station is all-white, including the tiles, ceiling and bespoke chairs and wash basins.

The overall look is quite glossy for Soho, an area once notorious for its brothels and sex shops. Although it has recently caught the eye of developers keen to cash in on its central London location, it still retains a certain grimy edge in its narrower alleyways.

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

However, for Jak Studio the aesthetic for the salon had to be determined on long before they found the perfect unit to fit it in.

"We had been looking everywhere in London from Belgravia to Shoreditch and finally we found the perfect unit, after two years of searching," said Gonzalez.

"This space can fit in anywhere, there's a bit of urban contemporary but at the same time urban and luxurious."

Salon 64 by JaK Studio

As it turns out Soho was the perfect location for a beauty salon bringing back the glamour of pre-revolutionary France. During the 18th century the area was so popular with immigrants from France it was known as the French quarter.

South of the river another salon in Peckham has also come up with a twist on the standard salon layout. Rather than face a mirror and their own reflection, architect Sam Jacob updated the DKUK salon so pieces of art could be hung in front of clients as they had their hair cut.

Photography by Francesco Russo.