Schwarzkopf ASK Academy, Toronto, Canada

by Sarah 12 November 2012
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    The first North American location for ASK Academy, an international state of the art training facility for hairdressing.

    Schwarzkopf, an internationally renowned hair product company, relocated its ASK Academy training facility from a characterless location near the airport to a second-floor loft downtown. Close to the hip downtown shopping and theatre districts, the new location establishes Schwarzkopf's first North American flagship as a cosmopolitan hub for teaching, company events and retail sales. The facility includes a reception, styling stations, washing areas, colour/cutting studios, classrooms, meeting and work space for international advisors, a student lounge and retail space.

    The existing building was a rough, post-and-beam interior and typical ASK Academies are very neutral with clean lines and soft lighting. Schwarzkopf Canada asked Gow Hastings Architects Inc. to redefine the space with some sophistication but within a tight budget.

    A new layer of crisp, white drywall "slips" through the host building revealing swaths of rough walls, beams and floors that contrast with warmth and texture. The neutrality of the scheme ties it with other international ASK Academies, but the contrast between the crisp and raw elements distinguishes the Toronto location.

    GHA designed the interior for utmost flexibility so that it can easily accommodate various programs/events. At the heart of the plan, the student lounge easily converts into a formal presentation or event space. Surrounding studios, classrooms and work spaces have floor-to-ceiling doors that can be rolled opened or closed to further enlarge the space for receptions.

    The highlight is the "Colour Bar" where students mix dyes. Dyes are usually tucked away back rooms and yet they are a key aspect of both the hairdressing industry and Schwarzkopf's product line. Here, by contrast, Schwarzkopf's colourful packaging becomes the focus of the space. Boxed dyes on steel shelving form bold and random blocks of colour. Running across the interior, even in front of the windows, shelves project Schwarzkopf's colours to the street.


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