The Barber Shop

The Barber Shop

Atelier AHA
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Atelier AHA

The Barber Shop

Atelier AHA as Architects

The Barber Shop is a revisit to the classic salon typology, with more contemporary tools and an emphasis on function.


Our brief was to design the fitout and branding for our client's new barbering business. His objectives were to creatively re-use a shipping container (pre-installed on-site) to create a professional and refined atmosphere where his clients could feel a sense of comfort and familiarity – without breaking the bank for his slick, young, business, "Soul Barbers".


What we did was place an emphasis on functional performance ahead of material efficiency, and pursued a unique experience for his customers and employees.


A major constraint for the project was the limited volume to work with, and our first major expense for the budget was in strategically extending the perceived volume of the space through the placement of mirrors and lighting. Functionally, we considered all aspects of hairdressing, from the storage and display of products, the clean up of areas between customer appointments, down to the variability of different barbers operating with different equipment and from different heights. As such, we designed all of the internal wall linings as a system to allow flexibility for the lifespan of the fitout, with pre-finished plywood and concealed rails that host proprietary brackets and shelving at any height along the walls. The brackets also serve each barber at a height of their preference for quick holstering of clippers, scissors and other equipment, while helping keep the long timber benchtop legible as primarily "space for the customer".


All horizontal ledges are also separated from the walls to allow for quick cleaning of the area, with the ability to brush down onto the floor for collection; while diffused lighting is provided from behind the mirrors and a custom counterweight system has been designed for suspending ring lights above each customer, and can be drawn down by the barbers during their detailed inspections of each haircut – previously otherwise done with a mobile phone torch.


Operating to a nominal budget, we designed our details to minimise construction time, and improve the longevity of the space, given it is for a high-wear program. We also used a simple materials palette of timber and plywood to add warmth to the space, with a dark blue/teal floor tile, matte-black powder-coated counterweights and wire shelving, both decorating and adding rhythm to the walls; and LED strip lighting and neon signage to blend a slightly neo-punk feel with the antiquity of being in a lobby.


We will begin construction of the project soon.

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Project Credits
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art
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