At a hair salon, it’s not uncommon for one client to arrive seeking flowy layers and another to come in craving a blunt pixie cut. A third client might even ask their stylist to merge the two styles together — trimming and snipping in just the right spots to deliver a shaggy bob that is avant-garde and yet somehow, professional. With that in mind, Montreal interiors practice Studio Kiff has envisioned Salon Artemys, a new business in the city’s Griffintown neighbourhood, as a confident fusion of different sensibilities.
Equal parts elegant and edgy, the salon reassures Artemys clients that no matter what sort of cut they have in mind, they’re in good hands. “It’s calm and minimal — but not boring,” explains Rachel Bussin, who co-founded Studio Kiff alongside Hélène Thiffault. “We wanted to create a space that had a feeling of opulence and luxury, without feeling exclusive to anyone.”
Look around, and you’ll spot many hallmarks of modern spa environments newly emboldened with a subtle sense of drama. For instance, while the project sticks to clean, simple geometry, it plays with proportion and scale in fresh, unexpected ways. And while muted tones comprise the majority of the palette, impactful pops of colour bring a bold hit of attitude — like a bright streak in an otherwise silver mane.
Working within a storefront on the ground floor of a newbuild, Bussin and Thiffault developed a layout that feels spacious yet intimate. “We thought about how people would move through the salon so that it wouldn’t feel overcrowded,” says Bussin. Subtle delineations between different zones include the circular rug that defines the front reception, and the colouring station that divides the styling and hair washing areas. Adding to the space’s openness are its floor-to-ceiling windows, which introduce a feeling of lightness further amplified by the mostly white design.
One notable exception to this calm airiness is the blue reception desk that greets Salon Artemys clients when they arrive. “We tried a few colours, but that one just felt right — and actually the owner ended up using it for his branding, too,” says Bussin. Fabricated by metal worker Justin Cristofaro, the powder-coated desk’s materiality — carried throughout the project in several other custom furnishings — acts as another strong contrast to the space’s softness. “The metal is quite brutal in the space, so it adds more interest,” says Thiffault. A matching rectangular pendant light continues the corner’s hard-lined geometry, while a bouquet-filled vase by glass blower Verre D’onge brings an organic contrast.
When clients start their appointment, they take a seat in front of giant slabs of stone that achieve a totemic monumentality. “We found this light jade marble that was really beautiful, so we wanted to show that off with a form that was tall and vertical,” says Bussin. At the centre of each styling station is an arched mirror lit from behind — suggesting, perhaps, a portal that leads towards one’s future self. “The form being a little bit larger than expected makes it more interesting,” Bussin adds.
Other moments continue the project’s main themes. Triangular metal shelving (also fabricated by Cristofaro) showcases an assortment of colourful styling products, while waiting lounge chairs featuring thin red frames are another subtle expression of colourful geometry. A custom coffee table designed by Studio Kiff is its own shapely sculpture, resting a long, thin mirrored surface on a thick cylindrical base. Suspended above, a Vibia Wireflow fixture serves as the cherry on top. “It’s this cool, luxurious chandelier,” says Bussin. “It works well with the space because it’s both voluminous and light at the same time.”
Additional illumination — sourced from architectural lighting company Eureka — skews more industrial. “We chose a lot of lighting typically used for warehouses,” says Bussin. “It’s less decorative, but we liked the tech-y feel — and in salons, they need a ton of white light.” The result is another reminder that unexpected pairings can make for great results. Perhaps it’s time to consider some high-contrast highlights.
Totemic stone partitions and a blue metal concierge desk are two highlights in a new Montreal hair salon.