Back by popular demand, our industry panel of experts tackles salon
today readers’ biggest design dilemmas.

< Return to Part 1

I see so many of
those dryer
systems that are
suspended from
the ceiling. Could
you tell me more
about them?

Designers' Challenge (Part 2)Blair Hopper:

The system
is called The Freestylist
Free-Floating Dryer Support System and
salon owners are installing it to eliminate
cord clutter and reduce the weight and
stress of blow-drying. It’s the first and
only dryer support system that yields the
lightest blow dryers in the world and gives
stylists the freedom to fi nish hair without
having to maneuver cords around a head.
It’s very liberating for stylists to have increased
mobility and it enhances the salon
experience for clients too. The lack of cords
also contribute to a cleaner, more uniform
salon. Not to mention, some salon owners
have mentioned that they like the fact that
their dryers stay put—they don’t constantly
have to replace them.

Installing the Freestylist during a renovation
makes a huge impact on the salon’s
décor—its state-of-the-art design instantly
transforms any space and adds a high-tech
minimalistic vibe that’s innovative and a
huge “wow” factor for both clients and
prospective staff.
Salon owners also like the system because
it maximizes space, which is a very
important attribute for smaller salons. It’s
also eco friendly—dryers run less on the
system, so it saves up to 7 percent in electrical
consumption and reduces landfill.
And, probably the most important attribute
is the ergonomically correct design,
which reduces muscle fatigue in the neck,
arms, back, and wrist, which can actually
prolong the career of a hairdresser suffering
from repetitive stress injuries.

We are establishing a second
location closer to the thriving
university in town. Since we will
be targeting the student market, I
want this location to have an edgy,
hip, cool factor, but one that
doesn’t get dated too quickly.
What should I be considering in
my design?

Designers' Challenge (Part 2)Steve Hughes:
When considering
a location targeted
to the Gen
Xers & Yers, the
brand of the salon
should be stated
from the outdoor sign
to the back door. Reinforce the brand identity
through every aspect of the salon: the
logo, color palette, interior furnishings and
accessories, services offered, staff hired,
retail products, marketing, website, etc.
When attracting a university- age audience
you need to keep in mind all these things
while keeping a timeless look. This can be
done by using a color palette which will
stand the test of time. Try white and rich
cocoa brown, with a stainless steel accent,
and add a bright color for accent which
can be changed every few years. Clean
lines and colors work best and stay fresh
longest for a timeless interior. Furniture
and equipment should be minimalist while
keeping function in mind. Less is more!
Try an open color bar which can work
very well in this type of setting. Select a
few statement pieces like great looking
light fixtures, and artwork for the reception
area which appeals to a younger, hip
market. Plan to update these pieces every
few years to maintain a fresh look. Design
an interactive retail area where seating is
limited, so your clients are forced to shop.
Gen X and Y types love to buy products, so
select a product line which brand matches
your brand, and is geared to your target
market, with great marketing and sales
tools. Strong brand identity through every
aspect of the salon will insure its success
for many years to come.

The spa part of my business simply
is not as profitable as the salon
side. While I want to continue
offering spa services, I want to
convert the space of two of the
treatment areas back into the
styling area. Is there a way I can do
this and create something exciting
and new?

Designers' Challenge (Part 2)Jill Espinosa:
Today, many
salons are adding
a chemical
processing area
which can easily
be integrated
with your styling
area. While processing,
clients can relax by enjoying amenities
such as a complimentary Wi-Fi, or sipping
on a favorite beverage. A specialty color
area is another great thought to add as this
concept is still making headway into salon
design. Belvedere’s color dispensary is an
example of a functional unit to utilize in a
color area as it saves space and holds up to
600 color boxes. Sometimes color areas and
processing areas can be combined together.
Most importantly, make sure you hire a professional
to assess your existing spaces to
ensure they transition seamlessly.

In the next year, we are
on doing some significant renovation
to our existing space, but we
can’t afford to close throughout
the entire process. What is the
typical amount of time that we
would need to close and how can
we best continue to operate
through some of the construction
without it being too big of an
inconvenience to our guests or our


Designers' Challenge (Part 2)Lauren Summers: Remodeling can definitely cause disruption to the
balance of your business. I’m not sure
how extensive the renovation project is,
but I would suggest doing the work
in phases to avoid closing completely.
Maybe reduce bookings
in order to work on half
of the spa rooms at a time.
Try to schedule noisy construction
after hours or on
Sundays and Mondays when
salons are typically closed.
Painting can be done at this
time as well. If the project is
extremely widespread, you may
need to pick a day during the week
to close temporarily for a couple of
months in order for a crew to come in and
get the work done. To help maintain some
sanity through the process, have yourself
and staff pitch in to keep the place as clean
as possible. Keep the dust from sheet rock
installation wiped off of furniture and fixtures.
Conceal the rooms currently under
construction with a curtain or a screen so
guests don’t feel like they are right in the
middle of the work. Just keep telling yourself
it will be worth it in the end and don’t
forget to breathe!

Our current floor plan is congested
in some areas, while others are
under-utilized. As I begin looking
for a new location, what are some
rules to keep in mind when considering
the flow of the salon?

Designers' Challenge (Part 2)Leon Alexander, Ph.D.: If the flow of the
salon has never been right for you, it probably
never felt right for your customers as
well. The design should be
focused on creating
experiences for
the consumer,
as well as great
for the
S a l o n
design influences your
customer ’s
behavior. The
primary design
objective is to create
and implement a design that
combines the physical rejuvenation with
an emotional space. Achieving a powerful
experience. As a result, it creates an environment
that is conducive to both buying
and service and maximizes the potential
of the salon business.

I want to keep down maintenance
costs in my new salon. Could you
suggest materials I can consider
which resist color stains, as well as
wear and tear?

Steve Hughes: When considering highpressure
laminated cabinetry, most of the big
manufacturers have a fairly tough surface
protection. For countertops, which take the
most abuse, specify horizontal grade laminate.
You can ask for laminates that offer
coated finishes such as LaminArt’s Oyster
Shield or Wilsonart’s AEON protected
laminates or, if a solid surface is chosen,
DuPont’s Corian. Most brand-specific materials
are engineered to provide durable
and maintainable finishes to give the user
“worry free” work place counter tops.

When considering shampoo bowls,
porcelain is a very durable product. Never
use abrasive or coarse cleaners. Get rid
of stubborn stains with environmentally
friendly oxygen bleach instead of using
harsh surface-eroding chlorine bleach. You
also can use a manmade cultured marble
shampoo bowl which has a high-quality gel
coated surface to protect against staining.
For maintenance, use a good grade of paste
wax such as Kit auto wax on a monthly
basis. Use it like you would with your car,
rub on and buff off. This will preserve the
luster, as well as protect the bowl.

When considering styling or barber
chairs, make sure you are purchasing a
vinyl that has some kind of “advanced
vinyl protection” like Permablok. Cleaning
the vinyl is much easier. 1:1 mix of Ivory
liquid soap and water will clean up most
marks and smudges.
It’s also best to follow the manufacturer’s
recommended care and cleaning
guidelines when maintaining the furniture
is your salon.