Trevor Sorbie hairdressing salon

Floral Street, London WC1

Opened: April

Budget: £750 000

Style: State-of-the-art New York loft-style spacious salon with a soft, minimalist open look in a huge area (1 200m2)

Design: Barber Osgerby Associates

Shopfitter: EF Group

Edward Barber, BOA

‘Trevor Sorbie wanted an extremely functional salon; there are up to 50 stylists working in the space so it had to be very well planned. The building was a warehouse dating back to 1881, completely derelict, with one rickety staircase in the middle. We had to put in all the services: electricity, plumbing, air conditioning, as well as the structural changes. There were also a lot of repairs to the existing fabric of the building, and soundproofing because there are offices on the floors above the site. The design period itself was very short, less than two months.

The main problem on-site was the air conditioning; in this area you’ve got to take the duct from all the units through the building. It involved a lot of negotiation with the landlord and the authorities, which proved very difficult.

I think the designer’s expectation of any shopfitter’s skills is never quite realistic. That’s life really. It’s down to the detail you go into. The programme was quite rushed – four months in total – and that inevitably created problems. Things didn’t always work in the sequence they should.

The relationship with EF Group was good, but every job is a rollercoaster ride. We hadn’t worked with them before and you have to work with a company a few times to get to know each other. If you can use the same contractor over and over again, you do get better results.’

Melvyn Harrison, EF Group

‘We wanted to work with BOA because the group is very conceptual, which was a new experience for us. To the eye the salon looks very simple, all the exposed services and ducting – but from a fit-out point of view it was quite complicated.

The real problem was working within the confines of Westminster Council – one of the hardest environments to work in, as well as the site being in a conservation area. Not only did we have to get the right quality, we had to maintain the structure and outward appearance of the building, so it was quite limiting.

Ideally, we’d have had a longer lead before starting on-site. But you can’t make authorities work to the same time frames, they don’t have a commercial view. But at the end of the day, it came together well. These jobs develop as they’re being built, so you have to work very closely. I do think BOA was quite imaginative in the way the scheme was put together.’

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