Pete Kennon is one of the most exciting architects in Australia right now. His unique talent for both modernising and respecting heritage accents results in one-off, totally compelling spaces.
A feast for the eyes, his latest project is a high-end refurbishment of a salon for none other than Joey Scandizzo. Pete was the creative vision behind the expansive Scandizzo home in Toorak, and now he and Joey have collaborated once more.
We spoke to Pete about his creative process, his vision and how he collaborated with the Scandizzos to created one of the most interesting and beautiful spaces in the country.
Can you tell us about the space?
The new interior is a complete make over. Imagine having growing long hair for 10 years then cutting it into a bob. I had spoken to Joey about this for a couple of years, we were side-tracked by COVID and eventually committed to the renovation during the second lockdown.
The existing salon interior was designed 10+ years ago and was very dated. The brief was not only to revitalise the interior but to review the overall business functionality and the identity through a redesign of the space. It became evident to me that the salon was the flagship of a bigger brand, yet it didn’t function to its full potential.
We began to reference fashion houses that have flagship stores, where retail shopping has become less about a point of sale and more experience that portrays the brand values through interior and service. Unlike retail you can’t buy a haircut on the Internet. As we unpacked the core values of the salon business and its people, we needed to design an interior that enhanced these ideals - and create a space that represented this.
Reviewing the customer journey of a hair treatment identified that there is more to a salon than just having your done. For many people, a hair cut is a chance to wind down. It's as much about ‘me time’ and self care as it is about the actual hair. The Joey Scandizzo Salon has an amazing energy, once you enter you don’t have an opportunity to think about your busy day, it is an energy that leaves you refreshed.
Hair dressing is a refined craft and the talent in the salon is proven to be the best in town, having won Australian Hair Dresser of the year on multiple occasions. Whilst the haircuts are world class, the salon interior design certainly didn’t feel like it was full of the best hair dressers in Australia.
Tell us about the neighbourhood – what is special about this location? How has the design of the space respected the location?
The most interesting thing about the location is the existing building the salon is in. The existing interior and exterior was a result of many layers built up over the last 100 years. From its construction in 1890, the building was designed as one of Melbourne’s first banks –The State Savings Bank of Victoria with vault and all. Over time the building had been adapted for many retail uses and each time a new false wall had been placed in front of the other for a start with a clean slate. A lazy and fast paced shopfitters technique.
Our first intervention was to strip back these layers to expose the existing and beautiful Victorian Italianate Building. Pulling out a false lowered ceiling exposed the original ceiling rose in the centre of what would have been the main room of the late nineteenth century bank. A new found volume to the interior where exposing and restoring the original cornices and arch details the interior already started to feel better.
We replaced the old flooring with a terrazzo stone, the furniture centrepieces were also crafted together from the same terrazzo stone grounding these heavy elements in the centre of the space.
We picked out the geometry of an existing archway with period detailing and replaced this arch idea a contemporary language that formed the hair dressing bays. Each customer is placed in their booth, like a first class airline seat, where the attention from your stylist is personalised to you. With a client base that is predominantly female, the curves are coated with a custom marble marmarino and plaster wall finish designed by the architect. This softens the hard edges and calms the atmosphere where the interior palette recedes and the details begin to pronounce.
To move through to the wash is a change in environment, metallic wall panelling and a dichroic glass brings an energy back a the rear of the building that felt underwhelming and almost forgotten.
What was Joey’s vision for the space?
Joey and I discussed a vision together for a long time. We mapped out many floorplans that added and subtracted the chair numbers, trying new ways of thinking about the function of the business.
The interiors developed through lots of workshopping where we took reference from the existing archway to re-created it in a contemporary manner. After many trials we decided the terrazzo stone flooring would work best and eventually designed the centrepiece furniture out of the same material.
I think Joey’s vision was heard but, the outcome is a completely different scenario of what he thought was possible.
Was this a collaborative process for the two of you?
Having designed Joey’s own family house prior to this project, we have a very good relationship. There is a trust there that you can only find after years of working together. Joey is a very detailed driven person who likes to be across every detail so this relationship was crucial to getting the outcome.
How would you describe the aesthetic? Are there period accents?
The building was built in 1890 as a bank in a Victorian period with Italianate detailing. We spent considerable effort to restore and highlight the existing period detailing of the existing building. Much of which had been covered up for decades.
What is your favourite element of the design?
Cues from the interior design had now set a really strong base for the salon to develop its business strategy and brand identity. The salon experience is the primal product and what sets the competition apart.
You can’t buy a haircut on the Internet so we knew that clients would return and we wanted to make a haircut experience even more special.