Tighter budgets require imaginative design thinking, and Le Hideout beauty bar in Montreal, is a neat example of when innovation wins. Think raw concrete floor, sculpturally formed MDF, and Ikea sinks used as footbaths.

In the vivid cultural hub of Griffintown, one-year-old studio Ménard Dworkind Architecture & Design (MRDK) made sure that the end belies the means, by investing in materials strategically, and agilely manoeuvring the 650 sq ft space. Becoming known for its attention to detail, and ability to work closely to a tricky brief, MRDK forged Le Hideout in an awkwardly geometric, commercial space at the base of one of the many condo buildings rising in this rapidly evolving part of town.

The pedicure chairs at Le Hideout, Melbourne

The design centres around an immovable concrete column that MRDK covered in a computer-cut floral form that grows up and onto the ceiling – not wildly dissimilar in principle to the one designed by Snøhetta in Aesop’s Sloane Square London boutique, which opened last year. This structure doubles as a nail polish display, mirror-mount, and useful storage, in the otherwise fairly stripped-back space.

The pedicure station consists of the afore mentioned IKEA sinks and reasonably priced Structube chairs taken off their legs, and installed on a tiled plinth at the front of the store. A rare but savvy expense, durable (tough as nails) Douglas fir lines the walls, and will last a lifetime, wrapping the room in a warming hue. In an act of economic balance, the concrete is left exposed and untouched throughout in an effective – and efficient – move. Original construction marks double as an abstract flooring pattern – found artwork, that appears new and deliberate.

Design flourishes continue at the reception, where a steel counter top folds over the front of the cabinetry, subtly recalling a painted nail, a fun addition that neatly manages to sidestep gimmick. In all, Le Hideout is a well thought-out beauty spot, with enough eye-catching aspects to last the length of any mani-pedi. §

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