Fold and Shear
Winka Dubbeldam wraps smoothly folded walls around the Aida hair salon in Manhattan.
Henry Urbach -- Interior Design, 2/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
ARCHITECT WINKA DUBBELDAM approached the design of the Aida Salon, an 1,800-sq.-ft. space with garden on Manhattan's Upper East Side, with the understanding that the program wouldn't necessarily guide her intervention. "Hair salons are difficult," she explains, "because not all that much goes on there." Confronting the challenge of accommodating a relatively simple set of activities with a fair amount of equipment to support them, Dubbeldam opted to investigate the formal possibilities of modulating interior surfaces. Vertical surfaces became, in her design, a series of planes that fold and inflect to wrap space, activities, and supporting objects.
The white walls modulate locally to incorporate lighting, speakers, magazine racks, mirrors, shelves, drawers, and electrical equipment. These surfaces also fold to accommodate larger program elements, such as the reception seating and desk, fitting rooms, and pantry and storage areas. Counters extend from the walls and are surfaced in sandblasted acrylic, creating cutting stations; recessed niches hold backlit, suspended mirrors. Between the thickened vertical surfaces, a sinuous space flows to accommodate passage and 15 cutting stations. The space opens up at the reception/entry, then cinches tight near the middle, opening up again at the back towards the garden. The whole room is continuous so that the garden remains visible from the street. In warm weather, clients are just as likely to be waiting in the planted garden as in the reception area.
Dubbeldam's "sculpted void" extends all the way to the sidewalk, integrating the facade within the stretch of a continuous, folding wrapper. The façade was treated as an intermediary layer between city and interior-a transparent and volumetric interface rather than a divisive planar cut. Formerly a painted brick wall with a symmetrical arrangement of door and windows, the new façade was organized asymmetrically and faced with mitered bluestone. A frameless, pivoting glass door opens towards a very large fixed glass plane that allows for light and views between the sidewalk and the waiting area. Above this window, a small, sandblasted glass panel presents the icon of scissors and comb, a contemporary take on the traditional barber's sign, and this icon is repeated again inside along the face of the reception desk. Strong southern light projects the logo from the façade into the salon, where it falls as shadow onto the stained oak floor.
Across the vertical surfaces, spatial folds are expressed as score lines, and Dubbeldam worked closely with the contractor to ensure their presence. "We wanted all the lines, all the sinews, to continue across the space," she explains. Abstract and skeletal, Dubbeldam's folds imbue this salon with an unmistakable elegance and sophistication while maintaining an equal measure of tectonic clarity, aesthetic economy, and purpose.