In keeping with the new breed of “anti salon” where salons have swapped framed images of models with enviable blow-dries for works of art and sculptures, Nyumba by Michael Charalambous fits in perfectly.
Nyumba meaning ‘home’ in Swahili was created to feel like a home-from-home – albeit an exotic Tanzanian abode inspired by Michael’s childhood in Africa.
“It’s easy to feel intimidated in salons, so I created an extension of my home; somewhere to relax,” Charalambous says of the eclectic bazaar-style backdrop of his stunning Sloane Square salon.
Working closely with designer John Field (he worked on Tom Ford, Gucci and YSL interiors) Michael has created a unique salon interior like no other in London. The gallery-like 4,250 sq foot salon space is home to a wonderful mix of contemporary design combined with African artefacts and talismen. A delicate shell curtain made from Zanzibar seashells contrasts with the deep brown Zebrano wood framed mirrors. There are also Masai warrior tribal masks and a huge collection of antique African combs adorning the walls.
LED lizards and African portraits work in perfect harmony with Michael’s other love – a huge collection of exotic foliage and plants, which makes you feel thousands of miles away from London’s Chelsea when you are lying at the backwash.
“When my clients arrive, they feel instantly invigorated,” adds Michael, and it’s easy to see why. Artist, India Jane Birley (sister of Jemima Goldsmith) agrees, “It’s wonderful to step into a different world.”
It feels more private club than hair salon, where popping in for a coffee and sitting down with a newspaper or magazine seems just as normal as popping in for a blow-dry. And on that subject, as well as all the usual glossy magazines available there is a huge library of National Geographics lovingly collected by Michael over the years and taking pride of place behind the manicure station.