Archstudio founder Han Wenqiang, who moonlights as an associate professor at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, won a 2015 Interior Design Best of Year Award for Shuimoxuan Teahouse, a modernist intervention in a cluster of ancient hutong. A nail and eyelash salon in a Beijing mall is a more 21st-century typology, but the seven-year-old studio’s philosophy still applies: “space-making as a communication vehicle between people and their environment—and between each other,” Han says.
The firm was tapped to create an outpost of the Lily Nails chain in Youtang Shenghuo Square that would chart a new look for the brand. Han inserted a spiraling steel plate within a 700-square-foot rectangle to create a space that emulates a fingerprint’s loops and whorls. Reception stands slightly outside the spiral, next to an external side wall, which is treated to gray-painted cement. A service room and a staff room are concealed in the rear corners of the salon, while the other side wall is planted with living greenery, a luxuriant expression of Han’s biophilic ethos.
Perforations in the 1⁄3-inch steel plate filter light from LED film behind, creating what Han calls “a soft, pure space.” Within the helical curves, white lounges with accompanying poufs and a six-seat central manicure station are carefully spaced to allow customers to interact. Ah, if walls could talk…
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