When we talk about beauty, we generally expect concepts in soft tones and cosy atmospheres. The beauty scene has changed lately and now counts much rawer spas and beauty spaces. At the four corners of the globe, raw materials are making an appearance in the beauty world and creating extraordinary and surprising settings.
Say No Mo in Ukraine
Heading to Ukraine, Say No Mo is a new conceptual beauty salon format. The salon is a bar used both for beauty services and cocktails. Combining pleasure and practicality. From the outset, the task of architects Balbek Bureau was therefore to break away from the traditional perception of a conventional beauty salon and its gender distinctions.
The 200-m2 salon unfolds around curved walls, some of which are covered in a gold titanium nitride coating. The spaces flow one after the other in a continuous palette of light tones that creates a calm, meditative mood in the different areas of the salon. Large windows diffuse natural light on the ground floor, enhancing the expansive quality of the four-metre-high ceiling. The resulting spaces have an almost ethereal quality when they are flooded with bright light. Balbek Bureau explains that the broken cast concrete arch at the salon’s entrance “serves as a metaphor for broken stereotypes in the beauty industry”.
The main interior feature weighs several hundred kilograms and took four months’ intensive work to achieve its seemingly effortless aesthetic, appearing as if it had always been there.
Bathhouse in the USA
As far as the United States is concerned, Williamsburg is where it’s at, where a soda factory from the thirties has been transformed into public baths with an underground spa. Inspired by Scandinavian saunas, Turkish hammams and Russian banyas. Founders Jason Goodman and Travis Talmadge collaborated with the Manhattan firm Verona Carpenter Architects to reinvigorate the space to make it a unique setting for social bathing known as Bathhouse.
The 600-m2 underground spa is lined with original brickwork and matte black geometric tiles. A mural painted by illustrator Amit Greenberg depicts an Ancient Roman-inspired bathing scene as the focal point on the back wall.
The therapies available include two red cedar saunas: one “tropical” with more humidity and the other with less humidity in a more typically Finnish style. There is also a hammam, a trio of thermal pools – including a traditionally Russian cold plunge, and several heated marble slabs adapted from a Turkish hammam.
Bathhouse also has a restaurant. Two separate street-level entrances have been created to access the two spaces, but the interior spaces are connected.
TaiOursea Laomendong in China
The ancient city of Nanjing in China is home to RoarcRenew’s TaiOursea Laomendong spa, which is inspired by the Thai principles of rest and relaxation. With a client looking to bring Thai massage to China, the designers allude to Thailand’s culture and symbolism throughout the interior. After being damaged by the war, the government reconstructed buildings across Nanjing in a traditional Chinese style, reflecting the city’s historic culture.
. In Men Dong shopping centre, where the spa is located, black bricks are a particularly symbolic building material. RoarcRenew gave this a little help with the use of red bricks, a reference to the popular red clay bricks used in Thai architecture. The designers think that the textured clay evokes the feeling of walking barefoot on soil, a further reference to the landscape of Southern Asia. RoarcRenew has categorised the bricks into five different sizes, laid in different ways in the spa.
Thai characters symbolising good fortune are embossed onto the surface of certain bricks throughout the interior. Some walls have protruding bricks that function as shelves for glowing lamps, a symbol of prayer and meditation that creates a sense of ceremony at the spa. Customised square lamps echo the bricks’ orderly arrangement. The spa’s outer facade is also lined with lamps, creating a beacon effect once night falls.