A bushy tail emerges from a dimly lit corner. The fluffy Shepherd initiates a warm welcome before settling at his owner’s feet (who is carefully crafting a pompadour cut on a heavily bearded client).
There’s a vintage cabin charm to the barbershop lounge; the type of place a bare-chested Burt Reynolds would puff on a pipe. Gas lift bar stools are occupied by patrons tapping their toes to Gordon Lightfoot as they sip pints and happily wait for their turn in the big chair.
Time moves slowly at Architect Hair Design, and owner Peter Mokrycke, wouldn’t want it any other way. After a hasty experience at a local unisex salon, Peter felt inspired to refashion the traditional barbershop – just like the good old days. But for this Hamilton millennial, the classic Harlem-style barbershop is a nostalgia that could only be imagined through films.
“I was always envious of the barbershops in the movies,” Peter says. “I wanted to recreate a comfortable, social environment, something that felt more meaningful than just a haircut.”
While not a hairstylist himself, Peter’s design instincts are razor sharp. And the creative genes run deep – both parents are local architects and sister Lesia, a reputable artist. In addition to the shop’s name, artwork and architectural drawings adorn the deep merlot walls, paying tribute to his family’s influence.
It wasn’t until spending time away from home that Peter developed an appreciation for his father’s style. During his studies abroad in Vienna, space restrictions required some creative play with design. “One thing I always took for granted growing up was my dad’s strong sense of space,” explains Peter. “I call him an organized hoarder; he packs his homes full of stuff, but he does it in an eclectic and interesting way.”
It’s fitting then that the retro-rustic space, located on James Street North and Barton, has been transformed into a living museum. Busts of heritage pieces perch on wooden wine barrels, six-foot historical paintings adorn the walls, and leather furniture and fur throws evoke a rugged-but-cozy European feel.
Offering hot towel shaves, beard trims, hair cuts and local craft brew, the fully licensed joint has all the offerings of a traditional barbershop, and then some. The bar features Stella on tap and cans of craft beer from local suppliers, Collective Arts, Nickel Brook, and Wellington – any beer is $3.50 with your choice of grooming service. There’s even wine for the sophisticated cats.
Play a round of chess, chill out and watch the game. Not your standard salon, Architect Hair Design barbers want you to stick around and experience the royal treatment.
“I wanted the space to feel like my Dad’s living room,” says Peter. “This was my attempt, with guidance, of course, to do what he’s done my whole life, in a public way.”
* Appeared in YP.ca.