In Insight, Professional, Tech

When Ted Gibson and Jason Backe wanted to reinvent the concept of the traditional salon, they tapped Chicago-based architect Francisco Gonzalez Pulido and his firm FGP Atelier. The mandate for the LA Starring project was to create a new type of retail environment and customer experience—the industry’s first “smart salon.” Starring is the culmination of a creative vision to provide consumers with an innovative, multidimensional smart salon concept, a premium product line, and an unprecedented luxury experience all under one roof.

“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.”

Rethinking and Personalizing the Style Stations

Gonzalez Pulido took the 1,100-square-foot, open-plan and skipped the traditional styling stations, designing five individual pods. Each whimsical, cloud-like pod was 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.”  Each pod is also outfitted with smart home speakers for personalized entertainment programming and music options, and includes an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet.

Reimagining the Reception Area

A black-and-white palette creates a gallery-like stage for the stylists’ work. An elegant entertainment lounge welcomes guests to relax in style, while the reception desk has been replaced with voice-activation through Amazon Alexa.

Reinventing the Retail Experience 

Starring has rejected the traditional retail experience, going entirely cashless and replacing product-laden shelves with interactive window displays. Customers 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 option to sign up for auto-renewal subscriptions. The exterior glass facade of the salon essentially serves as a giant barcode allowing passersby to shop without stepping foot into the shop.

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 well-being, adds convenience, and takes the pressure off the art of the sale.

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