Story of Us, 1920-1930: Extreme Makeover

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the salon as we know it today came into being. Bright spaces artistically furnished with modern appliances and electrical equipment were a far cry from what they started out as—a few chairs, one or two manicure tables, a wash basin. The multi-floor salon became a trend because finding find floors large enough to handle more than 15 hairdressing booths was too difficult. The rent for this type of large scale, single floor space was actually higher than the rent for several connected floors of one building. Intelligent planning to maximize the available square footage, and flow of air throughout the salon, became top concerns.

The layout and design of a salon also had to factor in the necessary gear. The boom in salon equipment—chairs, manicure tables, hair dryers, shampoo trays, booth partitions, and sliding mirrors—made the art of choosing the correct furnishings crucial. Brands like Paidar and Koken were reputed for their salon chairs. In fact, 90 percent of the largest salons were outfitted with Koken-built equipment because of their decorative value, durability and functionality. All-in-one hairdressing booths were also popular. Prefab booths could be as small as six feet by six feet, and allowed for services like styling, shampooing, and massage to be carried out all in the same spot. 

There was an emphasis on installing a central blowing system to eliminate moving hair dryers from booth to booth, and also making hot and cold air readily available. Remember, hairdryers back then weren’t the handhelds we have today; they were large and cumbersome devices.

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The rise of dedicated one-stop-shop establishments helped the growth of the modern salon. They provided furniture and equipment as well as repair services for furniture and electric equipment and a grinding shop for cutlery. Think of them as the Apple Store’s Genius Bar for hairdressers back in the day.

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