Combining a fully licensed bar, a café and a luxury beauty salon that is available also for private events is possible in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv. In many other cities around the world, property rental costs, liquor licensing rules and other obstacles would make this kind of enterprise impossible.
But Say No Mo Social Nail Bar is not only real, it is thoroughly cool. It is located at 36 Shota Rustaveli Street in a restored pale-yellow historical building in the very heart of old Kyiv.
The two-level 200 square-metre (2,153 sq.ft) space was designed by the well-known Kyiv-based Balbek Bureau with architects Slava Balbek, Sofiia Hupalovska and Nataliya Stukonog in charge of design and Natalia Kozak responsible for overall project management.
Over 10 months, the Balbek team and the salon’s Canadian owner worked to create this unique project taking advantage of the historical vibes of the area and the building while exploring the concept of a unisex salon environment.
Breaking away from the worn-out traditions – pastelly, girly salon-spas for women and a wood-paneled dark-leather gentlemen’s club-ambiance for men – the designers set out to emphasize the four-metre (13 ft) high ceilings and the openness of the first floor.
Without erecting dividing walls that would diminish the grandeur and hinder the flexibility of the space, they created clearly distinctive zones for the various functions of the salon. The ground level includes the reception, lounge, manicure and pedicure spaces.
The main floor’s distinctive features include the central cast-in-situ rough-concrete slab that serves as the reception desk, and the broken arch that surrounds it. The unfinished appearance of the two evokes the idea of an explosion – the designers’ not-so-subtle reference to blowing up traditional stereotypes.
The retail area and bar are surrounded by polished stainless steel panels with golden titanium nitride coating. Combining rough, unfinished and hard materials with curvy and soft accents – all in soft hues of white, grey, silver and gold – creates a beautiful balance and a peaceful background.
The lower level houses make-up, hair care, cosmetology, bathrooms and various utility facilities. With its lower ceilings and lack of natural light, the basement is finished totally in white and enhanced with mirrors. Tuija Seipell.
Photos: Yevhenii Avramenko