This Oakland Beauty Salon Elevates the Rituals Around Self-Care

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For San Francisco–based architectural design firm Homework—led by married partners Susan and Ben Work—this construction project located in the heart of downtown Oakland started with the demolition of a cluster of dated office spaces. The objective consisted of transforming the shell of the space into a state-of-the-art beauty salon for GoodBody, which specializes in textured hair.

“We think of the salon as a communal ‘third place’ for people, different from home or work, where people can be together,” Susan says. “Drawing from our experience in luxury hospitality design, we wanted this space to be comfortable and inviting but feel like you were someplace uplifting. In some ways the giant windows, 25-foot ceiling height, and axial layout give a subliminal cathedral vibe, the quintessential ‘third place.’”

To complement the raw and rectilinear space and add some bold softness and flow, the designers developed millwork curves to squeeze in and define the different areas: reception, retail, hair washing, and beauty services (including hairstyling and a separate facial services area). “The millwork on the south wall was very fun to design,” Ben confesses. “It is completely custom, it stretches over 40 feet, and it is a continuous sinuous shape that transforms to suit various functions. It starts by the entrance as a 34-inch-tall reception desk before dropping down and curving into a half-circle 25-foot upholstered bench that defines the reception area, evoking a hotel lobby. This was key to create a subtle barrier upon entry to promote a sense of privacy for the customer. The bench then reorients the customer to pass by the retail area, which picks up the same geometry of the bench.”

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