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FGP Atelier Creates the Salon of the Future

Photographs by Rafael Gamo

Francisco Gonzalez Pulido, head of Chicago-based architecture firm FGP Atelier, creates the salon of the future by challenging and reshaping the entire idea behind the traditional salon. Through the integration of smart home technology into the fabric of the design, Gonzalez Pulido realized a new type of retail environment and customer experience. Located on 211 1⁄2 South La Brea, in Los Angeles, STARRING by Ted Gibson is the industry’s first ‘smart salon.’

STARRING is the culmination of a creative vision to provide consumers with an innovative, multidimensional smart salon concept, premium product line, and an unprecedented luxury experience all in one. The idea behind the salon’s design is to reinvent a largely outdated hair and salon industry, and put forth a new way of thinking about what is next for retail.

“With STARRING, the mission was to create a state-of-the-art salon that merged cutting-edge technology with an unrivaled client experience,” explains Gonzalez Pulido. “The idea was to reinvent and reimagine the salon of the future before the industry even caught on that it was behind.”

Gonzalez Pulido established a transformative salon experience, integrating Alexa-enabled technology into the design through the following: rethinking and personalizing the style stations, reimagining the reception area, and reinventing the retail experience.

To begin, Gonzalez Pulido took the 1,100-square-foot, open-plan, technology-powered salon, and designed five individual pods, purposely choosing to forgo the traditional stylist chairs. Each whimsical, cloud-like pod’s design is inspired by the notion of voluminous hair blowing in the wind, yet also serves to create an intensely private, user-centric experience for the client. LED lighting is carefully layered into the undulating waves of each pod, allowing the user or stylist to view the hair color or style in various ambient lighting options like “Everyday Sunshine,” “Moonlight,” and “Indoors.” 

Additionally, each pod incorporates smart home speakers for personalized entertainment programming, music options, and includes an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet featuring various entertainment options.

Gonzalez Pulido chose a black-and-white palette for the design of the interior to serve as a sort of gallery-like stage for the stylists’ work. In lieu of a reception desk, the salon itself is voice-activated through Amazon Alexa while an elegant entertainment lounge welcomes guests to relax in style. 

The salon offers an unprecedented retail experience and is entirely cashless. To highlight the clients’ approach to STARRING and their rejection of the traditional retail experience, Gonzalez Pulido designed interactive window displays to take the place of the traditional product-laden shelves. Customers can simply scan SmileCodes using the Amazon App on their mobile device, and all purchased items are delivered direct to each customer’s doorstep, with the convenient option of auto-renewal subscriptions as well. The exterior glass facade of the salon itself essentially serves as a giant barcode—allowing passersby to also scan and buy the products without stepping foot into the shop. Every aspect of the salon was thoughtfully addressed to cater to a futurist mindset, yielding a radically different experience perfect for today’s necessary instagrammable moments. 

This innovative concept conceived by Gonzalez Pulido and his clients’ serves as an archetype for future salons and businesses—advocating for intimate, personalized experiences that incorporate technology in a manner that promotes wellbeing, adds convenience, and takes the pressure off the art of the sale.

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