The sky’s the limit

The sky’s the limit

Stefan Hitthaler

EUROPE: Beauty salon, Salon Himmelblau has been turned upside down, quite literally by architect Stefan Hitthaler.

The outlet in Welsberg-Taisten, lies in the Italian Tirol, a region known as Alto Adige where Italian and German cultures co-exist.

It is this that inspired the dichotomous design of the two floors in the shop. With 2,000 square feet of space, the ground floor has been left the right side up, with the basement turned a full 180 degrees.

The look was also Hitthaler’s tribute to his client. “My idea was to create a sense of colour in the salon that expressed the owner’s vibrant personality,” said Hitthaler.

Both the owner and designer wanted people to be curious when they enter the salon so they can either choose the right-side-up level or go downstairs, where an upside down world awaits.

“Here the floor represents the blue sky dappled with clouds. The ceiling is sprayed with polystyrene foam in emerald green to create a 3D lawn effect,” said Hitthaler.

The area is a popular tourist spot, especially for Italians, according to Hitthaler. “There are many traditions here in architecture and design. When tourists visit, they expect to see traditional architecture, an archetypal chalet in all its permutations and combinations.”

Instead of copying the conventional Tirolean house, made with a wooden structure and traditional pitched roof, the design team reduced that to a simpler abstract, reminiscent of a farm house. This structure became a staple part of its design across both floors.

The wooden houses are built with larch planks, rough on the outside and smooth on the inside, and can be single, for customers who want their own cabin, or larger to fit three chairs in a row.

The first house people find when they walk inside, is the reception area, which contains furniture typical of the region. Other houses of a similar size contain manicure and hairstyling chairs. The rectangular houses, which can seat three people, are also found on this floor.

Below, three single houses are overturned. Each roof points toward the sky flooring and the bases are rooted in the ceiling lawn.

To showcase all the products the store sells, Hitthaler built a freestanding unit which resembles a giant steel comb with its wide-spaced teeth as shelves. With internal fluorescent lights shining on various items, it’s made with galvanised steel and frosted acrylic.

Customers have responded positively. “I was anxious before the opening, because I was worried she will lose her clients who enjoy traditional design, but they all loved it,” he said.

He said there was a certain client who was so enchanted with the interiors, she insisted on climbing down to the basement to see the upside-down look even though she had a problem with walking down steps. “She took 20 minutes to go down one flight of steps but she did it to see what it looked like and loved it,” added Hitthaler.

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