Salon of the Year

First Runner Up: Shin

Stacey Soble | May 22, 2012 | 8:26 AM
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Santa Monica, California

Shin An
Luxury boutique, peaceful sanctuary, creative art installation
Takara Belmont, Minardi Color Perfect Lighting
Suhail Designs
Suhail Designs
Liqwd, Sachajuan, Sojourn
L’Oréal Professionnel, Redken


“The perfect blending of beauty, culture, heritage and vision to create a distinctly personal salon brand offering the ultimate luxury sanctuary.”—Morehouse

“Wow! Wonderful mix of your heritage and subtle design to employ this natural environment.”—Koerner

“A thoughtful space with harmony in color, texture and each exotic and architectural detail from the inside out.”—Pelafas

“The central linear ceiling detail draws you in, while the organic details create harmony. Simple use of color highlights add exotic flavor.”—Putnam

Cultural Awakening

WHEN SHIN AN MOVED to Chicago from her hometown in Wisconsin in 1993, she met architect and designer Suhail and was immediately inspired by his passion and creative vision. At the time Shin predicted she would one day call on Suhail to build her salon vision near a body of water. After living in New York where she worked with Mark Garrison and Paul Labrecque, Shin realized Santa Monica, California, was her waterfront destination and, in 2011, she called on Suhail and simply said, “It’s time.”

Together, the two transformed a 1,200-square-foot, cottage-style retreat into a modern art installation. Dark wooden panels with hand-carved “cultural tattoos” beckon clients, while interior walls soothe with bright mosaics and intricate carvings. Throughout the salon, the artwork pays homage to Shin’s Korean heritage—koi symbolize perseverance and strength, fiery dragons invite good tidings, and cherry blossoms invoke nature and life. To maximize limited space, Suhail designed custom cutting stations with integrated, multi-functional storage carts.

The exterior of the design proved as functionally important as the interior. Suhail also integrated the cultural references into the façade, creating a distinctive look that was iconic with the Shin brand. The main entry to the salon was discreetly relocated to the side, enabling a reception and waiting area with access to an outside patio. Additional deck space was maximized so Shin can offer services, such as massages, threading, facials and make-up application outdoors, further enhancing productivity.

“My mom always said people will drive far to go try a restaurant, they will do the same for hair,” says Shin. “I’m finding she’s right. We’re attracting clients from Malibu, Paci­ c Palisades, Brentwood, even Beverly Hills.”

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