Appealing to a younger, fresher clientele in an institutional salon suburb like Double Bay, Tom Hair Studios is simplistic yet sophisticated, as the name suggests. Inspired by Amangiri in Utah, the new Tom hair pairs a desert feel with a Tuscan influence, writes Cameron Pine.

Having landed in Australia from the UK 7 years ago, Tom worked his way up in institutional Sydney hair salons before opening Tom Cole Hair in Double Bay with ex-wife Moriah Rota in 2018. Fast forward a few years and after some solid soul searching, Tom is back in Double Bay – just down the road from the original salon he built but with a completely new aesthetic. Already welcoming a strong clientele of celebrities and influencers, it’s not hard to see why the 70 per cent female clientele are hooked on a touch of Tom.

“I wanted my new salon to be different to all the other salons in Double Bay with a minimalist yet almost Moroccan feel – I wanted to achieve a blushed sandstone look throughout – not quite a pink but more of a dusty sandstone,” Tom said.

To add textural detail without over-cluttering the space, the paint was applied with a Venetian plaster technique and filled with heavy texture that flows from the walls into the ceiling with curved finishes rather than sharp 90 degree angles – in colour Dulux Titahi Bay.

“People are really noticing that it’s so different to other salons in the area, and with just 80 square metres of space to work with in such a prime location, it was important for the space to feel welcoming for all, and not cluttered,” he said.

Securing the space was the hardest part, adjacent to Bills in a sought after street opposite the intercontinental hotel. Success for Tom, in this case, is all about the company you keep.

“I’m so happy to be in such a sought after location but with a bit of a different clientele to the typical double bay clientele. It’s much younger and brings a fresher vibe to the area. It really is much cooler and fresher,” he said.

The salon is already the meeting place of a distinctly Gen Y clientele and influencers with a discerning taste – the salon’s head Colour Director Dane Wakefielf is booked up until the end of October with this heavy waitlist a considerable achievement considering the salon has only been open for a few weeks.

“I’ve learnt from my first business and had some hard professional and personal lessons along the way and there are things that I didn’t want to take into my second salon.  I took year off to really evaluate what I wanted to do before I started the build,” Tom said.

“I had to work on myself a lot in that year and think about it I was going to open another salon what really would it look like to give it a point of difference in a competitive market. It was mentally a very tough and draining year for me but I’ve worked on myself and now have a space that really represents me.”

The space garners a big response when clients walk in. It’s fresh and clean and doesn’t feel like a traditional salon. Lots of glass and natural light with nothing near the windows affords the space an immediate ‘walk in welcome’.

“If you’ve got a welcoming space with natural light and plenty of word of mouth on the street, you grow quickly” said Tom. “We are bringing the cool back to Double Bay.”

Tom has partnered with Orginal&Mineral for colour and retail and well as Oribe – going for both a luxury feel but also an element of health and environmental conscience was important.

“Double Bay has been a little stagnant for a while, it’s time to renew the area without losing that up-market feel,” he said.

To bring the fresh desert vibes to Double Bay but without forgoing an element of luxury, Tom engaged designer Jordan Abram. Well-heeled in hospitality venues, it was a new project for him where he combined different elements of hospitality that work well in a salon environment.

In collaboration with Francesca Kanat from Something Chez design studio, Tom went in with a brief that gave this creative pair a little more freedom to run wild.

“We established a look and feel that we thought was quite unique to Double Bay and also quite unique to a hair salon – we were really conscious not to go down that cliché hair salon copy and paste,” Jordan said. “We wanted to create something that wasn’t salon driven but was more sensory and experiential – something more welcoming that tied into the functionality of a salon space.”

With a male clientele also coming to the salon, it was important for the space to be fresh without being too feminine – it’s a classic style that’s as current as it is welcoming for all, you could almost mistake yourself for being in an arid desert climate in the foothills of Mexico.

Tom and Jordan certainly took us on a journey by achieving these unique elements through textural tiles and touches of colour, without taking away from the overall blush and bright feel of the salon. There’s nothing that over-powers or draws your eye too much to one particular element.

“For the handmade Moroccan tiles I was heavily inspired by the incredible green glaze that is traditionally associated with Tamegroute, one of the oldest villages located in the Draa River valley in southern Morocco. Tamegroute translates to ‘last place before the desert’ and they produce amazing glazes that use the rich golden sun of the Sahara in the baking of the clay. They are a true act of craftsmanship which is reflected in the feature tile wall at the salon,” Jordan said.

The handmade green Moroccan tiles were laid in a way that is ‘purposely imperfect’ to absorb the natural sunlight that floods the space, creating beautiful shadows and the reflection of light it also juxtaposes the new and the old – giving the salon a real handmade feel.

For Tom and Jordan, the most challenging aspect was working with spatial limitations. “These limitations forced me to creatively re-design commonly disguised salon features, such as the colouring backroom and wash up sinks, and rather reveal them in the space as features, such as the concrete basin with custom, hand-shaped copper pipework & tap features,” Jordan said.

While the Moroccan green, blushed paints and browns may speak to the desert and the yin and yang counter feels more like a café counter top with the reversed elements and counter lines, ultimately the salon space has been designed to make clients feel like they’re at a social space to get their hair done.

It’s already the Double Bay charmer, the man about town. It’s full of personality, just like Tom.

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