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Groom by PintoTuncer

An oasis within a shopping centre, Groom Spa presents as a familiar place; warm and relaxing. This first design from PintoTuncer has garnered them much praise

Groom by PintoTuncer


January 7th, 2013

When PintoTuncer was announced the winner of the Retail Design Award 2012 for Groom Spa Westfield Southland in Cheltenham Victoria, no one was more surprised than Gerard Pinto and Ilker Tuncer.

Groom Spa was the Melbourne-based architects’ first built project together since forming their partnership in 2011.

The award, an initiative of the Retail Design Institute and proudly sponsored by ASOFIA, recognises the best creative use of a retail space.

“We’d never done a project like this before,” Gerard said. “We were starting from scratch, taking a new approach and not coming to it with any baggage.”

The brief from their client was clear about one thing. The spa would not be “sterile and white”.

Ilker said their client wanted “a departure from the standard day spa” that would appeal to both men and women.

“They had an idea of what they wanted in the space, a feeling of homeliness,” he said. “It had to be inviting, friendly and warm – like going to a friend’s house.”

Gerard added: “We wanted it to feel a bit like an oasis in a shopping centre. You do the shopping and go in there to relax. It’s a space that’s warm and welcoming.”

To this end, the pair created an eclectic space using salvaged timber and found items juxtaposed with silk, brass and other “hints of glamour and sophistication”.

The experience for the customer starts at the glass-and-steel shopfront, with delicate timberwork signage and two glass-encased promotional boxes either side of the horizontal steel framed door with brass handles. One contains a large promotional poster and the other a ‘treatment menu’ with roaming plant alongside.

Once inside the capacious space the mood is “playful and interspersed with little things that start conversations”, Gerard said. A large timber wall features snippets of history and nostalgia, including a bag rack sourced from a primary school.

Sleek compact TVs are affixed to the wall and abundant cupboard space sits underneath a timber bench that runs its length.

The facing wall is the retail zone, where merchandise is strategically positioned on steel-framed shelving.

“There’s a plinth across the wall that’s brightly lit like a beacon,” Gerard said.

The rest of the lighting throughout the spa is ambient, moody or task specific.

The two retail counters with edgegrain plywood tops have a clean, neutral feel.

The space is populated by all the comforts of home: a row of off-white leather pedicure armchairs, patterned scatter cushions and footstools, a communal table with found chairs that have been repainted and re-upholstered. An espresso machine and mini bar are tucked into the corner.

A big window located at the back of the public space offers a view into one of the spa’s treatment rooms.

“It’s a little bit of a voyeuristic experience,” Gerard joked.

Ilker said: “The idea is that when the room’s not in use you can see a scenic composition of a massage bed and shower set against a beautiful salvaged timber-panelled wall.”

Gerard, 33, and Ilker, 34, are thrilled to have received such high praise from their peers at the Sydney/Melbourne chapter of the Retail Design Institute.  They’re hopeful that Groom Spa will gain further accolades at the Retail Design Institute International Store Design Awards to be announced in New York on January 14.



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