Salon Tour: Dominic Michael Salon

Elizabeth Jakaitis | January 16, 2015 | 11:18 AM
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Dominic Michael Salon

Ladue, Missouri


Owner: Dominic Bertani

Date of Opening: April 2013

Overall Style: industrial chic

Square Footage: 3,307

Total Design Investment: $387,500

Styling Stations: 25

Manicure Stations: 2

Pedicure Stations: 2

Makeup Stations: 1

Furniture: Tops Unlimited, Modern Line Furniture

Equipment Manufacturer: Salon Equipment, Takara Belmont pedicure chairs, European Touch

Retail Lines Carried: L’Oréal Professionnel, Aveda

Color Lines Used: L’Oréal Professionnel, Aveda

Design Firm: Tom Young – Craft Design

Architect: Tom Young

Photography: Steven B. Smith



1. List your three favorite features of your salon/spa design and explain why.

“Interior Finish: The authentic materials that were chosen – walnut, gun metal carbon steel and stainless steel – work to support the polished concrete floor and the exposed roof materials. The juxtaposition between the rough shell (floor and roof structure) and the newly inserted elements bring an industrial feel to the design. We carefully placed architectural elements of framed partitions, furniture and fixtures within the existing space we were provided rather than masking it.

The Open Floor Plan: The salon floor plan creates great sightlines. A generous sense of space was a top priority. The designated areas are defined by thin walnut partitions and cut out gun metal steel panels and still provide an open feel. The work areas are further emphasized by circulation paths and custom steel furniture. Also featured in the open plan is a center aisle highlighted by sky lights and punctuated by a wall of horizontal walnut panels.

The Use of Gun Metal Carbon Steel: This material was chosen for its aesthetic appeal, functionality, and durability and is used throughout the salon. It serves to support the styling stations ten inches from the floor (no corners to sweep) and the elevated cabinetry contributes to the floating workstation design. A four inch square tube also acts as a conduit for the electrical service to each station. The custom metal screens given definition to crucial work areas. There is an overhead 4 x 8 square bean that connects the vertical screens and supports the color processing equipment at the color bar. This beam is inserted into a steel lined pocket in the walnut accent wall.”


2. What was the biggest challenge about this salon or spa design, and how did you overcome it?

“The existing conditions within the space were the biggest obstacle. Two vertical support beams seemed to interfere with every cutting station configuration we conceived. Our solution was to embrace it and use the pillar as a point of reference for the station layout. Ultimately we enveloped one pillar with cabinetry allowing it to effectively disappear, while the second pillar is concealed in the wall surrounding the dressing rooms.

However, when I called my architect to brainstorm he said that I was the biggest obstacle…we both had a good laugh. The truth is that when two passionate designers attempt to collaborate, it can be a challenge. He focused on the aesthetic and I had an eye for function and budget. The combination of these elements requires balance and compromise to create a perfect harmony. It was again a great collaborative effort with this being the second salon we have built together.”


3. Who is your target market and how did you design this salon to attract that market?

“Our target market is the most fashion conscious people in the St. Louis metro area ages 20 to 55. We also recruit a large client base from the student population at Washington University. The largest percentage of the student population relocates here from the East Coast and is a vital part of our salon client pool.

The primary focus in the design and construction process was to have an environment that created the following:

  • It required a design that satisfied our most affluent core clients. The use of timeless building materials, such as walnut, stainless steel, and gun metal steel, lends a sophistication to the space. Upon extensive research I selected the proper mix of natural lighting and LED lights to create balance. The interior finish has an understated industrial elegance that is very appealing. The combination of aesthetics and functionality in the design has resonated very well with our clientele. There has been a positive buzz in our community as well as the flood of referrals I had hoped for.
  • The design needed to be relevant to our younger demographic. The style of the salon was to evoke several things: salon, studio, workshop, gallery, loft, chic. We must have done a great job…without adding staff we have experienced a nearly 20% increase in volume.
  • The salon provided the proper workshop for my staff to practice their craft. My staff deserves the best possible work space. A question I applied towards every element in the design was, ‘As a technician, does this function well and will it be durable?’ That required a very careful analysis of space necessities within each discipline. Lighting applications, access, and comfort were equally as important. All cosmetic considerations aside, the driving concept was to be in a salon where my staff can be inspired to produce great work.

Design elements are important, but the critical element to the salon’s success was location. I worked to secure a lease in a particular development in order to be located in the ‘IT’ location in St. Louis. It is central to the most desirable residential communities and borders St. Louis’ preeminent business district. This development is populated with shops and restaurants that create great synergy with the salon. Our location and our interior design = success.”


4. Which specific elements of your salon design were planned to enhance productivity and profitability?

“A great deal of thought and drafting went into the final plan. Maximizing the opportunity, specifically with the service units, was a primary concern. The salon is 3,307 square feet with 31 service units which translates to 106 square feet per unit, station, or chair.

The center aisle of the salon allows clients and staff to access every area of the salon without interrupting a service. The hair stations are perpendicular to the center aisle for ease of entry. The shampoo area is central to the salon layout and the color bar is located next to the color lab. The color lab is a very practical resource for the staff, from formulations to inventory management; the lab has proven to be an efficient improvement to our former approach. The dressing rooms face the center for easy use. We are a very high volume salon and this design has proven to be extremely functional.

The stainless steel color bar is a very practical installation. It measure 18 inches wide and 16 feet long, yet it allows for 9 clients to receive service simultaneously. By using a chair base that permanently attaches to the floor you can control the color chair placement. With this, the color processing equipment installed overhead can reach more than one client.

The manicure and pedicure stations were positioned in the salon with privacy in mind. They have a semi-private area tucked in a relaxing ‘L’ shaped cove. I chose to put the skincare treatment room away from the cutting floor to reduce sound interruptions. The restrooms are also positioned in the rear of the salon for additional privacy."

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