FGP Atelier creates mega-scale projects on a global playing field. Principal Francisco Gonzalez Pulido reels off some current endeavors: a stadium in Mexico City; three towers reaching up to 1,600 feet in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Nanjing, China; an urban complex with culinary school in Puebla, Mexico. So, what was the attraction to a 1,100-square-foot hair salon, Starring by Ted Gibson, on a nondescript block in Los Angeles? Turns out, plenty.
The shop, helmed by celebrity stylist Gibson, was to be a prototype for the salon of the future, and Pulido was initially intrigued “by the kit of parts concept” and the challenges imposed by a tight budget. Then came technology. Gibson had made a connection with Amazon, enabling this to be a trail-blazing smart salon as conceived by the architect. And, yes, Alexa would be onsite to enable options.
Collaborating with his wife and studio partner, Gergana Pulido, he deconstructed the paradigm of stylists’ stations and shampoo bowls and constructed his own landscape. Five wavy, cloud-like pods—within a setting of “gallery-white” walls and glossy black epoxy flooring—offer a semi-private, futuristic environment for stylist and client. Pods were inspired, Gonzalez Pulido explains, “by how Ted works and how much space he needs to move around. It’s about providing a new experience for all.”
The ribbed pods are made of laser-cut MDF with LED strips integrated every six to eight ribs. The lighting is covered with an acrylic plate, and “each strip is on a separate circuit activated by Alexa,” the architect notes. Want to see how you’ll look at a red-carpet event or in broad daylight as in a summer day at the beach? Lighting, using up to seven colors, can simulate these and other conditions. It gets kind of trippy. Further, Alexa provides music and entertainment options via individual speakers and tablets in each pod.
Gibson and Gonzalez Pulido redesigned retail, too. There are no product-laden shelves to clutter this sleek setting. Instead, a bar code film is affixed to front windows allowing passers-by to scan it with smartphones for direct access to Gibson’s website. Products can be delivered directly to shoppers’ homes via, you guessed it, Amazon.