One of our earliest clients, 6 Salon will celebrate its 19th anniversary in 2022, having opened on March 25, 2003. In an industry known for fashionable trends and disposable style, we are particularly proud of the longevity we achieved with our projects with 6 Salon.

Studio Name: M1DTW Architects
Design Team: Chris Benfield & Christian Unverzagt with Ryan Kelley, Kevin Kuza, Martha Merzig, Makoto Mizutani, Craig Somers, Don Behm, Andre Sandifer
Area: Architecture, commercial
Year: March 2003
Location: Royal Oak, Michigan USA
Lighting: Illuminating Concepts
Mechanical and Electrical: MLS Engineering

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©M1DTW Architect. Photo: Jeffrey Kilmer

Our relationship with the client dates back to their first location, 6 Salon in Royal Oak, Michigan. Here we oversaw a number of refinements and additions over the years, but the core physical character of the salon has remained unchanged. This is due in part to the continued significance of two aspects of the salon: its spatial qualities and the social interaction between stylist and client.

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©M1DTW Architect. Photo: Jeffrey Kilmer

The client invested in design that extended from the facade inward and down to all of its physical elements — highly durable workstations and furniture elements. And while our intention was never to be explicitly “green” or “sustainable,” the quality of our selected materials broke the cycle of disposable “remodeling” that the industry is known for. The design states a commitment to longevity. Stainless steel, aluminum, slate tile and glass are used throughout. These materials remain resilient, wear well in a demanding environment and are highly recyclable. Salon stations were custom designed by M1DTW and fabricated locally by a number of talented metalsmiths and material fabricators. Made of completely recyclable stainless steel, they are exceptionally durable, stain-proof and intended to last a lifetime.

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©M1DTW Architect. Photo: Jeffrey Kilmer

The design, while distinctive, and fixed in many ways, also provided flexibility for growth and adaptation: a flowing curtain at the entryway became a fixed glass barrier; updated wall graphics on the salon’s few drywall surfaces were added; and replacement equipment has been easy to install as needed over the years (e.g. new salon chairs and shampoo bowls). Remarkably, the salon stations remain unchanged all these years later, though storage pods were added following their introduction at the Old Woodward 6 Salon location in 2014. Conversely, a flood at Royal Oak in 2019 prompted a substantial refresh of the space, during which time we implemented a number of top-to-floor refinements, including opening up an adjacent private room in the salon to expand the shampoo area: as a result, we were able to add three additional stations. Nearly 20 years after its opening, 6 Salon (Royal Oak) continues to demonstrate our design’s responsiveness to growth and change.

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©M1DTW Architect. Photo: Jeffrey Kilmer

The furniture has also held up remarkably well, with the original chairs and sofa still in use. The Bertoia chairs have new seat pads and the Eames Sofa Compact has been reupholstered (and was due again at the time of the photographs), but have broken in like a well-worn baseball mitt, as Charles Eames has said.

The branding has served as a consistent marker for the salon, with a limited palette of typography, wit and color. Since 2003, M1DTW has shaped 6 Salon’s branding, architecture and interior design across flagship and popup locations in and around Detroit.

We have composed a series of then and now photographs to permit a comparison of the project since its opening and how it has endured over time. 


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