Salon Design

Design Without Breaking the Bank

With a growing number of choices, you have to work hard to stand out from the competition and bring your salon’s brand to life. The good news is that creativity trumps dollars every time! A retail design firm shares its advice for how to adapt.

 <p>C&amp;A Iguatemi in S&atilde;o Paulo always feels fresh because the space can change easily to highlight whatever new product is in the store. With flexible, perimeter fixtures, the space is morphed to best suit new merchandise. Though small, there&rsquo;s enough room for meandering and discovery.</p>


This is space that you cut out of your ordinary floorplan to create sudden or planned impact. By carving out a simple 20-ft. space, you can create a high-impact area that tells a single story or offers a surprising new experience.

 <p>At Well Polished in Katy, Texas, more than 70 SpaRitual polish bottles in a chandelier create a memorable wow factor. The clever decor makes clients want to take a second look &mdash; and then they start to look a little closer at everything, wondering what the next surprise might be. Plus, it causes clients to look up, which gives customers a whole new vantage point to consider.</p>


Using everyday materials in unexpected ways can pay off ten-fold by creating a moment of surprise for the customer. The use of bountiful displays or signature elements unique to your business makes you memorable and differentiated.
<p>At John Lewis in London, a clear acrylic wall becomes an artful display for nail color.</p>


Color is power. It’s power over the emotions; it demands attention; it compels the eye. The clever use of color is one of the most inexpensive and powerful tools, again relying on creativity more than dollars. Whether you merchandise in an artful or in an organized manner, disparate categories can be unified by a strong color theme.

<p>At Danier in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, the first 20 feet are used to highlight a designer collection. It&rsquo;s a small space that can be easily updated and makes great use of the walls and the floor to tell a complete apparel and accessories story.</p>


Think of your first impression upon entering a new space. It’s the first things you see that tell you if this place is for you. The same is true when you need to attract customers: Use your first 20 feet as your welcome mat, investing in ideas that say “new,” “interesting,” and “inviting.”

<p>Digital consultation stations within Walgreens&rsquo; LOOK Boutique in Las Vegas help customers sort through the many beauty and &shy;skincare &shy;options available.</p>


Today’s digital moves far beyond the 8” x 10” screen. Using technology purposefully is more about the immersive experience than the technology itself. Some of our favorite examples show digital used as wallpaper, wayfinding, and setting the stage for the brand.

<p>At AbFab Salon and Spa in Rockford, Ill., the waiting area has oversized sofas and chairs with throw pillows. Clients are offered a beverage while they wait.</p>


The waiting room is where customers are thinking, “Is this a place I want to visit again?” Whether she’s waiting for her appointment or waiting for a friend, you don’t want her to feel like she’s waiting at the doctor’s office. Ideally, there are different seating “pods” so she can choose which suits her best...maybe there’s an area with different chairs, so she has the option of having her own space, or maybe there’s a curved velvet sofa that looks too luxurious to resist. It’s important that the waiting area is a truly sensory experience. What does she smell? Consider a calming signature scent. Offer her something to drink while she waits — a glass of ice cold water with a slice of lime or a cup of hot tea. Little cues like candles burning or brand-appropriate music set the tone for the experience. There’s also an educational aspect that’s coming back to waiting areas; I’m seeing the return of hardcover art and travel books to waiting spaces so she can enjoy her time by reading about something meaningful in a beautiful book.

As vice president of intelligence and brand strategy at retail design firm Chute Gerdeman, ­Joanna Felder works with clients to develop brand positioning, image, and voice. Bess Liscio is vice ­president, visual strategy, at Chute Gerdeman, where she uses her creative expertise to help her ­clients develop and ­interpret business objectives into exciting visual concepts. For more information, visit

Note: Photos shown here are not necessarily Chute Gerdeman Retail design projects.

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