Smothered in green and burgundy and juxtaposed by details from lighting to texture, Salon HER is an eclectic creative space where high-fashion meets high-comfort, writes Cameron Pine.
The career-long vision of celebrated colourist, Michael Kelly, Salon HER combines almost two decades of hairdressing prowess, resulting in a space with an artisanal touch as masterful as his hands. A celebrated colour educator that’s travelled the globe, Michael’s vision for his salon is a representation of his style aesthetic and global travels but one that is steeped in that quintessential style that defines some of his greatest work.
We sat down with the Salon HER owner and Visionaire to find out just what creating this strikingly sophisticated salon entailed.
INSTYLE: How did you create an inclusive environment through layout and design?
Michael Kelly: Salon HER was thoughtfully designed with not only the layout under careful consideration but also the textures of the materials, the warm and interesting colour palette and the ergonomic functions of the space. Our clients have moments to enjoy in the space, from a generously sized welcome desk to a friendly and familiar lounge area. We wanted to make that first experience one that felt more curated, slowed our clients down and allowed them to take a minute to gear change and lean into the Salon HER experience – the ideal space for both the expert and the guest.
IN: What colour tones have you championed? Explain the use of earthy tones and green as a base? Are there other key colours that were essential to the creation of the space?
MK: I’m obsessed with green, especially when it comes to textiles and finishes, but the salon interior wasn’t where the green originated. When I was working with Paulina, my branding specialist, I gave her a colour palette I wanted to work with. It included colours like green, ochre and burgundy. Paulina was quick to move on these references and started to create an evolved palette that elevated my original vision. When we finished our brand book I sent the completed product to my Interior Designer team for their considerations. They loved it and used the brand book as inspiration to curate a selection of unique and earthy but balanced in warmth tones to go for our interior selections.
IN: Were there any particular hotels, eras or landmarks you were inspired by in the creation of the salon’s mood and aesthetic?
MK: Yes and this was the easiest and the most fun part! I love interiors, I love travel and I’m very decisive, so gathering inspiration was easy to do. I took inspiration from chic hotel lobbies, intimate restaurants and people’s homes. Collectively they were my guiding light for the creative work involved in building a concept. Top tip – if you ever need inspiration, go to YouTube and watch the Architectural Digest series they offer where you get a guided tour through celebrity homes by the celebrity themselves.
IN: What materials have you chosen for main areas such as flooring, walls, cabinetry, tables and benches, and for what reasons?
MK: Everything was selected with juxtaposing contrasts in mind. I wanted a space that could potentially start or inspire a new age of salon individuality, something that felt globally inspired.
Materials where sourced like the Italian terrazzo tiles that cover 70 per cent of the salon, and our walnut wooden flooring that is also consistent throughout the cabinetry and joinery for adding warmth and richness to the space. The marble benches and detailing were by surprise – our supplier accidentally sold our pre-purchased slab to another customer and allocated us one that we hadn’t seen in person. Serendipitously we loved it and preferred the statement it makes after all.
I think the moments in the materials really come from how they all work together rather than individually how they sit alone. The vision was clear from the beginning and when you set the space in real life, it’s so incredibly beautiful, you just want to stay for hours. That was the idea for both our team of experts and clients.
IN: How have you elevated the experience for the customer while still keeping a relaxed feel?
MK: The elevation in the experience is around redefining what luxury service in salons feels like. I’ve travelled the world and visited or worked in some of the most exclusive spaces on offer and my key takeaway from the ones that were the real deal was that they didn’t try too hard to be anything other than what they inherently are. Gone are the days of feeling like you have to behave a certain way to service in the luxury space. Clients crave connection, meaningful conversation and individuality. They want to see, hear and know the real person doing their hair and, at Salon HER, this is what’s most celebrated!
Allowing that expression for your team creates and fosters amazing harmony for the client experience. All the superficial elements of a beautiful interior and luxury products are well and truly lost if you don’t have the right energy in your space.
How our clients and my team feel when they arrive home to Salon HER really is the most important part for me. It’s something I’ll never be able to drop the ball on because it’s a natural instinct of mine to be aware of those around me and navigate their experience to best suit them and to best suit me.
IN: What is your favourite new feature of the salon? Is there something you’ve done you haven’t seen anywhere else before?
MK: Recreating the wheel is impossible and I think when you try too hard it really becomes obvious that you’re probably over-compensating for something that maybe doesn’t hit the mark. For us at Salon HER, the real feature is the environment. It automatically feels familiar, it automatically feels like you’ve arrived home, it automatically feels like you belong.
However, to choose specifically it would be our generously sized welcome lounge, designed with a purpose in mind of giving the client a minute to come in and just, breathe.
IN: How important was lighting to different spaces in the salon? How have you maximised both natural and artificial light? Explain some of the light fittings, styles and technology used?
MK: Lighting is everything! We made sure we had the specialist electricians take into consideration the neutralisation of warm and cool lighting to create balance and harmony. We have LED track lighting around all mirrors so clients never feel intimated by making eye contact with themselves in the mirror. In turn this creates more connection between expert and client, when they both feel comfortable. We have a brighter, cleaner-lit area in one part of our space where content can be easily captured and the whole wall that runs the length of the salon is a huge window that is open to many different aspects of natural light as the day goes by. We worked with the clever placement of pendant lamps, wall lamps and ornamental lamps to create different moods of lighting for our clients to enjoy.
All globes are dimmable to create storytelling in the salon and for capturing content when natural light isn’t always available. Making sure that all the globes are flicker-free when recording video content on your phone was also essential.
IN: Where did you source furniture and eclectic pieces for the salon?
MK: Sourcing was worldwide. We have a lot of custom, repurposed and collected pieces. All of the artwork is from my personal collection and the styling props were hand selected by myself or my designer Mariah Madder. I maintained high visibility over the selects throughout the process.
From a salon perspective we specifically had salon furniture from Maletti and Comfortel, and back room colour merchandising was designed by TesselGrid. Ergonomic is the only way to go!
Mariah also sourced smaller pieces from local vintage makers and artists and some of the larger furniture pieces from local Australian brands. We included Australian brands like Studio Henry Wilson, House of Slim, Rachel Donath and NOMI.
IN: How have you brought a little more fun and energy to the salon environment?
MK: Allowing the team to be who they are with respect to the space they’re in ultimately leads to them being more energised which, means the team is always having fun together. I think when the team culture is strong and professional standards are always in consideration, the client experience is always high-level.
IN: Will you specialise in any particular services?
MK: Our key message is that we are the home of transformative hair. In that message we are allowing our clients to make the most of their appointment and let it be whatever they need it to be.
Whether it’s corrective colour work or simply a ritual treatment and an infused hot towel to slow right down, we will cater to the human needs of the client through working on and around their hair as the focus.
IN: What inspired you to create this space and why is now the perfect time in your career to offer a hairdressing home like Salon HER?
Growth, it’s a perfect and wonderful thing. For almost two decades I’ve nourished, built, grown, systemised and enhanced other people’s brands that I’ve worked for. The time had come for me to put that same energy into me and my own personal brand. I am always wanting to level up and learn, so this experience was the next stage of my dedicated learning. There have been so many huge moments already and only I’m at the very beginning of my new chapter of salon ownership.
For more information visit www.salonher.com
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