The former historic post office building in Hasselt now houses a 380m2 hair salon. An impressive loft overlooking greenery, where concrete, white cabinets, and wood set the atmosphere. In Belgiums most unique hair salon, Kristof Buelens and his wife Mara Aquino, along with their artistic team, focus on the customer experience, elevating the concept of a relaxing hairdressing session to a new level.
Text by Anja Van Der Borght
Although Kristof Buelens always had a passion for hair, his family in Limburg, 25 years ago, thought it was better for him to earn a solid diploma. Only his mother, with her broader vision, saw her son making a name for himself as a fashion designer or following in the footsteps of Jean-Claude Van Damme as an actor. She insisted that Kristof attend Studio Herman Teirlinck. “Yet, I felt fashion suited me better,” Kristof says, “I was interested in hairdressing, but since it had been discouraged for so long, it wasn’t until I was 16 that I made the switch. I started an apprenticeship with Luc Margiela, brother of the famous fashion designer Martin in Genk; but I dreamed of owning my own salon, preferably in New York or Paris. Born in Belgium, Antwerp or Hasselt were worthy alternatives. After three years with Luc and some other experiences – I wanted to have worked in as many places as possible – I started my own salon at 24. A very sleek, trendy salon on Zuivelmarkt in Hasselt. For seventeen years, under the name ‘So Lounge’, we created ‘relaxed hair creations’, which we still do today in Maison BU, which opened 1.5 years ago. We want our guests to relax completely, to be pampered, and to leave with a relaxed but elegant hairstyle.”
The Artist in the Hairdresser
For customers, everything starts with filling out an online diagnostic form where Maison BU inquires about your wishes and expectations: do you like natural products, do you have allergies, what changes do you want for your hairstyle, and do you have a preference for a certain look? Then follows a consultation. “At Maison BU, we never follow trends but create them ourselves by launching biannual collections,” Kristof explains. “We also closely follow the fashion weeks in London, Paris, and New York.” Today, Kristof also calls himself a hobby photographer and successfully shoots his own hair collections. His wall-sized black-and-white photos could easily hang alongside portraits by great fashion photographers. “If I ever had to stop hairdressing, I would dedicate myself full-time to photography; beauty is my passion.”
A True Art Gallery
The beauty and hair art created at Maison BU can be admired in a true mirror palace that Kristof himself created in the Art lab. “Our artists strive to make every creation a SIGNATURE BU; each hairstyle is always tailored to your personality and face,” Kristof says. “In our Maison, we want to bring together as many artists as possible. On the one hand, there are temporary exhibitions focused on a good cause, and on the other, artworks by artists from all over the world with whom we are currently collaborating.” The impressive building where Maison BU is located thus unfolds into a true art gallery. “We never speak of ‘hairdressers’ because I believe our craft can be elevated,” Kristof says. “I love the time when men were cut by hand, without clippers, and that’s what we do here today. We also only cut dry because that’s the only way to properly assess how hair naturally falls.”
Beauty & Hair
“We live in a hectic time where efficiency is very important; that’s why we combine hair and beauty under one roof at Maison BU. Nails, face, and hair like Balmain extensions… no time wasted traveling back and forth and scheduling beauty appointments on different days.” You can come here for facial treatments with the exclusive brand EviDenS, the only products in the world with triple collagen, but also for makeup with Pune, manicure with Koh, … “We make sure customers are completely ready when they leave,” says Kristof’s wife Mara. “Relaxing luxury and experience are central. That’s why customers can enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast in our Bar BU at the entrance of the salon on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but you can also come here for lunch. The 380 m2 salon is undoubtedly the largest in our country and seems to have been plucked from the streets of New York. It’s a true experience to have your hair done here. Relax horizontally on a Takara Belmont lounger while your Balmain or Oway hair mask works and, as a bonus after the scalp massage, a strong shoulder massage? A salon without equal in Belgium, that much is certain. One to cherish and especially to try out!
Once a customer at Maison BU, since a year you also have the option to upgrade from loyal guest to exclusive Maison BU member. In this capacity, you can enjoy numerous benefits:
• Exclusive appointments on late evening services and special opening days.
• Priority on limited actions.
• Four exclusive events per year (linked to a good cause)
• Free workshops (on themes such as perfume, makeup, hairstyling, …)
• The exclusive booking of private appointments.
• Automatic checkout. Purchased services and products are automatically deducted from your membership.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
You invest in yourself for the coming month(s) by adding an amount to your membership. This membership then becomes your means of payment for services, products, and experiences in the salon.
At Maison BU, your personal file keeps track of your purchased services and products. After each visit, you receive an overview of your bill and your credit. This way, you can fully focus on relaxation.
Maison BU offers two membership formulas:
Membership Exclusive – € 750
• 10 percent off products
• Beauty voucher worth €75
• Invoice possible
Membership BUSINESS – € 1250
• 10 percent off products
• 10 percent off hair & beauty
• Invoice possible
Info Maison BU, Havermarkt 31/33, 3500 Hasselt, tel. 011-72.07.55, www.maisonbu.be