To create an inviting but understated space for the Bradley & Diegel Salon, Studio Luz Architects created a series of sculptural lightboxes to emulate existing skylights, and to infuse the long, linear space with more natural light.
To create an inviting but understated space for the Bradley & Diegel Salon, Studio Luz Architects created a series of sculptural lightboxes to emulate existing skylights, and to infuse the long, linear space with more natural light.
The lightbox assembly uses dual T8 strips, custom matte-white perforated metal shades, and a translucent polycarbonate lens.
Courtesy Studio Luz Architects The lightbox assembly uses dual T8 strips, custom matte-white perforated metal shades, and a translucent polycarbonate lens.

When Peter Bradley and Dirk Diegel opened their new salon, they wanted the shop to be recognized for its elegant but effortless atmosphere. After finding the ideal location—a second-story through-floor space on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay—the duo approached Studio Luz Architects to design an environment that would be both beautiful and functional.

The 1,200-square-foot space previously had been home to a spa that was divided into several small rooms. The spa also had covered over three skylights. Following the clients' directive to create a loftlike gallery setting, Studio Luz converted the interior into one long styling room and uncovered the skylights to introduce more natural light. However, given that there were only three working skylights, the architects had to design additional “skylights” for the remainder of the stylists' stations and develop a lighting solution that would mimic the appearance of daylight. “We saw limitations as opportunities,” explains Studio Luz principal Anthony Piermarini of their new system of “skylights,” which serve as the defining architectural feature.

The shape of each parallelogram-shaped skylight box was custom designed to direct light where it was needed. Measuring approximately 5 feet long by 3 feet wide and extending 15 inches below the finished ceiling plane, a total of nine custom-shaded coverings were integrated into the space and correspond to each bank of stylist stations below. Constructed of perforated metal, the shades were finished matte white to produce diffused light. (The perforations create a desired moiré effect and help to filter the light and minimize glare on the mirrors.) A translucent polycarbonate lens over each skylight makes the appearance more uniform and aids in softening the light. Four new coverings are used at the existing three skylight locations. Two fluorescent lightstrips mounted inside each of these shade frames provide balanced light at night. The five new skylight boxes use dual 4000K 65W T8 fluorescent strips in a lightbox recessed into the ceiling.

Bradley & Diegel required a multifunctional space worthy of the salon's reputation for high-quality hair cutting, coloring, and styling. And Studio Luz delivered. Light is used to differentiate the salon functions: low-voltage halogen track at the stylists' workstations; fluorescent for the edge-lit mirrors, and a glare-free undercabinet detail at the hair-washing area that allows customers to comfortably look at the ceiling. The combination of sources provides full color-rendering, while the visual rhythm of the custom-shaded skylights provides the space with diffuse, ambient lighting. The result is a seamless blend of light and architecture into a singular design element.

Project Bradley & Diegel Salon, Boston, Mass.

Architect and Lighting Designer Studio Luz Architects, Boston, Mass.

Structural Engineer Sarkis Zerounian & Associates, Newton, Mass.

MEP Engineer Ibrahim & Ibrahim, Boston, Mass.

Photographer John Horner, Somerville, Mass.

Project Size 1,200 square feet

Manufacturers Chloride Systems, Columbia Lighting, Prescolite, Tube Lighting