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A sprout grows in Baltimore.

Sprout: An Organic Salon is located on a mid-block site in Baltimore's Hampden section, once a residential neighborhood for workers in then nearby mills. After the mills closed, many residents moved out, but the neighborhood recently experienced a turnaround as a new generation of home buyers moved in.

To service the hairstyling needs of this primarily young, style-conscious clientele, local entrepreneurs rented an empty storefront space, 17-ft wide by 60-ft long, which formerly housed a dollar store. The salon owners' business plan was based on offering a full range of services and products that would have minimal impact on the environment. Their aspirations were high; their renovation budget was minimal.

With dollars tight, the owners called on friends and family to help build the store, starting with demolition. "Once we got into construction, it was like raising a barn on a farm--everyone pitched in," says lighting designer Glenn Shrum of Flux Studio, Baltimore, whose design approach was framed around three main concepts: 1) reference the daylight condition both day and night; 2) feature light and material; and 3) create a solution that combined the goals of sustainability and high design without exceeding the $3.30 per sq ft lighting hardware budget.

Daylight was limited to a north-facing storefront and a single south-facing window. Vertical coves with 4,100K T8 strips and translucent diffusers, located at the transition between the white wall surface and exposed brick wall, match the cool north daylight. Halogen track lighting utilizing 50-W PAR 30 lamps provides grazing light on the ceiling-suspended wood-slat scrim curtain, creating a dramatic backdrop for the reception desk. Diffuse daylight fills the entry and product display area, illuminating the brick pilasters and wood scrim. During the day, the scrim, made from strips of pine flooring salvaged from the previous storefront construction, provides stylists and customers with a filtered view of street activity. Monopoints are fitted with the same lamps.

Polished silver metal pendant downlights contribute classic styling and reflectance along both sides of the space, from front to back. They house 42-W, 3,000K tripletube CFLs. "Their finish matches that of the exposed ductwork and helps to visually unify the space," Shrum says.

The salon's exposed brick interiors feature large mirrors that "hide" the tools of the hair styling profession. Storage shelves measuring 7-in. wide are mounted behind the wall mirrors. The shelves keep from the customer's view the combs, scissors, brushes and bottles typically placed in rolling carts. Elimination of the carts contributes to the space's open feeling and contemporary image. Behind a sandblasted detail at the top of the mirrors, a decorative 3,000K fluorescent strip lighting was installed.

Sprout has grown quickly and now attracts a loyal local following. It was named "The Best Place to Get a Haircut" by the readers of the Baltimore City Paper and "One of the Top 100 Salons in the U.S." by Elle magazine.

Vilma Barr is a regular contributor to LD+A and has written, co-authored or edited 15 books on retailing and design.

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Title Annotation:PROJECTS; salon
Author:Barr, Vilma
Publication:LD+A Magazine
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Apr 1, 2010
Words:507
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