Say No Mo by Balbek Bureau: 2020 Best of Year Winner for Beauty

Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.

Asked to design a beauty salon, Balbek Bureau, a local architecture firm, did its due diligence, researching salons and taking note of recurring colors, materials, and decorative motifs. Then the team took the opposite tack. The result is Say No Mo, a gender-neutral space of roughly 2,100 square feet on two floors of a 19th-century building. The project not only breaks from the idea of a salon that is either “his” or “hers” but it also holds up its own version of beauty, uniting the cragginess of a cavern and the molten magic of liquid gold. For the rough part of the equation, cast-in-place concrete forms an arch on the main level that looks like an opening blasted through rock. The reception counter, also cast concrete, resembles a stone block but is fully rigged with plug-in connections. Smoothing some of the edges are golden panels made of sheets of polished stainless steel coated with titanium nitride, a hard ceramic. Two Soviet-era baby bathtubs, welded together, comprise a freestanding washbasin. Painted gold, it, too, gleams.

Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.
Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.
Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.
Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.
Photography by Yevhenii Avramenko.

Project Team: Slava Balbek; Sofiia Hupalovska; Nataliya Stukonog; Natalia Kozak.

> See the full list of winners and honorees from Best of Year 2020

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