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The Triumphs and Pitfalls of Design According to a Salon Architect

Elizabeth Jakaitis | December 20, 2016 | 7:54 AM
Anthony Cristiano
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Anthony Cristiano
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Anthony Cristiano
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Anthony Cristiano
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Anthony Cristiano
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Anthony Cristiano
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Mario Tricoci
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Mario Tricoci
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Mario Tricoci
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Mario Tricoci
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Mario Tricoci
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DMAC Architecture in Chicago is the creative force behind the salon design of Anthony Cristiano and Mario Tricoci’s flagship location in Chicago. Both spaces are clean, calm and modern, but have a unique identity that reflects their brands. That, according to DMAC Architecture Principal Dwayne MacEwen, is the key to a successful salon design. 

"When we have that first conversation with a salon owner, we work through some of the functional details, like the space between stations and where a guest will be guided when they first arrive and where can they place their coat," MacEwen says. "Owners will also bring to the conversation the aesthetic elements they are inspired by. Even if they want a classic, Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire, '30s style, that typically gets updated to some degree. The design should never be sentimental, but always timeless." 

MacEwen explains that partnerships between his architecture firm and salons typically come about through word of mouth recommendations and portfolios, which he says architects use in the same way that stylists do, to build interest and credibility. 

DMAC Architecture first worked with Mario Tricoci salons, designing their spaces throughout the Chicago area. It was through his partnership with Tricoci that MacEwen met Anthony Cristiano and another creative vision was born. 

"Anthony Cristiano is located in Trump Tower on the Chicago River," MacEwen says. "So of course, we brought that view into the salon. When planning salon spaces, we do try to incorporate as much natural lights as possible. In some spaces, as in urban salons, we also create zones that are more of a retreat from the hectic environment. Spa areas often work best as more hidden, dimmer areas. It works well to draw guests through puddles of light and shadow."

According to MacEwen, light, functionality and a timeless design are a few of the elements that make for a memorable salon space. The salon design pitfall to beware of? 

"A salon design can go wrong when there is too much going on. When it comes to larger design elements, like a water feature, just one feature can give the salon something noteworthy. However, if everything is important then it can look too busy. This also goes for having lots of posters and decor hanging on the walls. Sometimes less is more." 

MacEwen's advice for creating a classic and timeless design is to use authentic materials. For example, if a salon is going to incorporate wood or marble into its design, then those materials should look and feel high-quality. 

“We’re about the creative design of the space in the same way that stylists are concerned with the creative design of hair," MacEwen says. "Every element comes together to create a cohesive and well-styled look."

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