The Akin brand is the creation of a handpicked collective of Dubai based entrepreneurs where the name derives from the notion of a brotherhood of people who appreciate craftsmanship, fine detail and beautiful aesthetics. This high-end barbershop was crafted with meticulous detail and a refined palette of materials that includes solid ash, precise metal finishes and custom resin sinks.

ANARCHITECT’s brief for Akin was to challenge the ‘traditional’ barbershop and to explore a new perspective whilst maintaining the familiar functionality and enhancing the social dynamics and experience for the customers. Space’s small size needed to be maximised for the business profitability and design was placed at a starting point for customer’s conversation. The high-end barbers presented a unique opportunity to design and create a beautifully crafted piece of small-scale architecture within the limited space.

The architects chose to work with solid ash, a lighter, smoother wood than the darker, heavier-grained woods typically associated with barbershop culture. The bespoke timber structure and joinery – constructed from solid section American ash, selected for its strength-to-weight ratio to span the required lengths within the project. Ash was chosen aesthetically for its distinct linear-natural grain and light colour and tone appearance to evoke the desired clean and crispness. For the entrance floor areas, white oak engineered flooring was used in a distinct chevron pattern with single plank linear border to differentiate the customer waiting area and retail from the mosaic tile floor of the barbers area.

Given the Akin Barbershop's close proximity to the beach and the year-round Dubai sunshine; contextually we wanted to create a bright, fresh and crisp feel to the space without losing the rich association barbers have to craftsmanship and detail. For the structure we chose to work with solid American ash, a lighter, smoother wood than the darker, heavier-grained woods traditionally associated with barber shop culture.

Ash is also an inherently strong timber, the crafted modular design of the Akin Barber shops requires an independent self-supporting structure and series of connecting beams that span up to 6.0m with a bespoke Japanese inter-lock joint that ensures the beam can adequately support the adjustable task spotlight projectors to enable the barbers to work precisely and accurately under good lighting conditions,” says Jonathon.

The architectural ash timber structure is custom designed by ANARCHITECT and has become a signature of the Akin brand. The composition of the structure is designed to be adaptive to respond to each new location and performs as an insertion to visually frame the peripheral context in which it is sited. The self- supporting modularized frame can accommodate either a barber station, retail display, entrance door, shelving, waiting bench and also a panelled wall system so that each new Akin can be reconfigured to best suit its context and achieve the same craft, detail and material to which it is synonymous.

The smooth, linear grain of the American ash evokes a strong natural material that purposely contrasts the brutal, man-made pitted surfaces of the cast-in-situ concrete of the unit shell.

This subtle tactility of the ash is visually legible from a distance whilst customers sit in the barber’s chair gazing towards the ceiling and observing the joineries craftsmanship, and physically tangible to touch where the ash forms the structure for the waiting bench, the retail shelves or even the heavy-use barber sink and equipment drawers. The natural, oiled finish of the American ash matures gracefully over time and character and a story to each Akin Barber & Shop,” concluded Jonathon.

The wooden framework is a visual feature, but also integrates with the functionality, providing an enhanced social experience and an identifiable design, where strong visual aesthetic inevitably brought value to the client’s brand identity. Akin at the Beach project is the latest retail and leisure addition to ANARCHITECT’s accomplished portfolio, recently recognised as the winner of the Outstanding Use of American Hardwoods prize at the UAE's Commercial Interior Design Awards 2019.