Located in Kyiv’s historic centre, Say No Mo is a new beauty salon that wows visitors with its avant-garde aesthetic and subversive ambience. Interior architects balbek bureau have married finesse and sophistication with urban grit and industrial references in a space of effortless elegance and lyrical imperfection that encapsulates the owner’s mission to upend conventional notions of beauty salons as well as the industry’s gender divide. Housed on the ground floor of a century old building, with additional rooms in the basement, the designers took advantage of the 4-metre high ceilings and the massive masonry structure to create a sequence of highly sculptural spaces with the help of cast concrete and curved golden panels.
Separating the reception and lounge area in the front from the bar area at the heart of the venue – the latter is used both for beauty services and cocktail receptions – is what appears to be a blasted wall. Conceived as a metaphor for the crumbling stereotypes in the beauty industry, the “crumbling” cast-in-situ concrete arch took more than 4 months to construct and weighs several hundred kilograms. Cast-in-situ concrete was also used to create the complimentary reception desk in the shape of a block of stone whose monolithic form belies its functionality. The rough, industrial feel of the cast concrete chunks is then echoed in the external wall’s exposed brickwork and the intentionally crude welding seams of the bar counter’s metal plating. At the same time, polished concrete floors, white-painted air ducts and cable trays, and a sleek selection of minimalist contemporary furniture imbue the space with a sense of cool sophistication.
Made from polished stainless steel with titanium nitride coating, the gleaming golden panels that gently wrap around the walls and columns stand out against the muted white and grey palette, bringing a touch of luxe to the salon’s interior. As pleasing to the eye as they may be, they have also been designed with practical purposes in mind, serving as bar shelves and partitions, and concealing the unevenness of the original walls.
In the pedicure area at the back of the salon, golden accents in the form of Kintsugi-like repairs to broken wall tiles and a free-standing washbasin made from two Soviet-era baby bathtubs pick up the sleek extravagance of the golden panels and add pizzazz to the otherwise all-white space. A predominant white palette has also been used for the compact make-up, hairdressing and cosmetology area in the basement where the large mirrors combined with monochromatic approach offsets the lack of natural light and low ceiling height.
Designed as it is to also host cocktail parties, we’re certain that the beauty salon’s mission to “Say No Mo” to the beauty industry’s stereotypes, conventions and unquestioned traditions will be successful – there’s nothing more seductive after all than a cool cocktail in a beautiful setting.