In 2015, the retail design and construct landscape in Australia is a very exciting one to be a part of. Operating predominately out of Melbourne, Mayne Retail Projects has a strong focus on delivering small to large scale bespoke retail and commercial fit outs.

Within the hairdressing industry, we’ve been most fortunate to deliver a number of new builds and existing refurbishments for Biba salons and Fleet St Barbers.  In conjunction with local Melbourne architects, Tandem Design Studios, we recently completed a very unique project in Acland Street St.Kilda.

In a first for Biba & Fleet Street Barbers, the client experimented by operating both brands within the same Acland Street space. Biba salons are synonymous within the Melbourne hairdressing landscape as having a very progressive, rustic and sustainable aesthetic. Director of Biba, Pavlos Divitaris, is extremely passionate about creating something ‘interesting’ and focusing on the utilization reclaimed materials. With this exciting design brief, Tim Hill – Head Architect, and his team from Tandem once again delivered a wonderful concept, which really complemented both brands in this iconic Melbourne location.

From a construction perspective, the build was extremely exciting and challenging as we faced some unique tests along the journey. Such as, constructing a living garden wall in the main salon space without any natural light or botany expertise!  The tenancy was completely gutted back to its core, exposing beautiful red brick and industrial finishes from its turn of the century history. It was always within the design brief to reclaim as much of the building’s previous underbelly and character as much as possible, which is particularly evident within the barbershop.

The barbershop is probably our favorite element of the build. Everything from the enormous structural demolition and oxidized universal beam installation, to sourcing the reclaimed workbenches and four fully restored barber’s chairs from the United States. We went on a whirlwind buying mission to the US to source the four retro chairs in February of this year. Fortunately, in three days we managed to secure two Koken, one Paidar and one Theo Koch chair(s) all to be restored locally (USA). Each chair was fully dissembled, rebuilt, chromed, upholstered, painted and had porcelain restored. From the day we left the States, the chairs were in Melbourne six weeks later and are now the shop’s crowning glory.

We’ve done a number of salons and barbershops now and have learnt valuable lessons from each one. The most common items overlooked pertaining to functionality are lighting and ergonomics. Whilst feature lighting can look really effective, it needs to be functional. Good luck trying to do a skin-fade with lighting that’s throwing shadows throughout the shop! The same applies for station layout. We usually work off a minimum of 1500mm centers from each chair to give staff comfortable working space and client privacy.

Aesthetically, when designing and fitting out barbershops and salons, it’s important to create a certain atmosphere that aligns with the brand you’re trying to embody. Barbershops are highly aesthetic and creative environments, which means the fit out is really an extension of your own style and passion for the industry.  I may be biased, but I think the fit out aesthetic is crucial to the success of any service and retail space, particularly barbershops. Obviously service is paramount, but we’ve found repeat business and hype to be highly correlated with an exciting and comfortable atmosphere that becomes ‘instagramable’ and a talking point amongst patrons.

The great thing about this industry is, it’s not really necessary to have an enormous budget to create and interesting space.  Some of the most brilliant retail fit outs winning current international acclaim are done on a shoestring budget with sensible material palette and clever ideas.  I urge anyone fitting out their first dream shop or next venture to do your research, get inspiration from others and have fun with it. The barbershop renaissance is an exciting frontier and one we look forward to being a continual part of it.
w:     m: 0408 998 629
Tandem Design Studio     w: