Hair salons that serve up sanctuary and Negronis, nail bars that promote meditation and video art, and an ethereal acupuncture studio are among Wallpaper’s edit of standout New York salons – all offering the best beauty expertise in well-designed spaces.
Sought-after hair salons
If you can manage to snag an appointment with Takamichi Saeki himself, you’ll find yourself with a razor-sharp cut that lasts and lasts. Something of a hairdressing legend, Saeki has clients who fly from all over the world to sit beneath his scissors. A former gallery owner, his love of art shapes not just his chic haircuts but also the look of his second-floor Bowery salon. Designed in collaboration with architect Sandra van Rolleghem in 2012, the space features a wealth of contemporary artworks, including murals by Barcelona-born artist Santi Moix.
Takamichi hair products (which you’ll also find in the bathrooms of buzzy new hotel Nine Orchard, as well as Saeki’s own Gramercy Park retail store Takamichi Beauty Room) are displayed like a cabinet of objets d’art. Book in for the salon’s cutting-edge and deeply rejuvenating Infrared Therapy Deep Conditioning treatment, designed to infuse conditioners deeper into the hair’s cortex using infrared lights and vibrations.
Photography: David Mitchell
Bradley Scott Rosen has achieved what could have been impossible with his Gramercy Park salon, Minor Rose. Opening in fall 2020 was a brave move. The salon’s success is perhaps due in part to its intimacy: tucked quietly away on a neighborhood street with chairs for just two clients at a time, Minor Rose is without the chaotic chatter and commotion of your usual salon.
Its signature service? A really good haircut, trimmed in peace. This gem of a space was designed by Evan Erlebacher of Also Office. ‘I wanted the space to function as a hair salon without necessarily looking or feeling like one,’ says Rosen. ‘I wanted my guests to feel a sense of belonging in the space, confident they would be safe, seen, centred and celebrated,’ he adds of his mid-pandemic opening. ‘As basic forms of social intimacy are renegotiated, the salon can be a sanctuary for human connection.’
Suite Caroline-founder Lena Ott had worked on catwalk shows in Paris, New York and Milan, for designers from Rick Owens to Sies Marjan, before opening her 2,000 sq ft SoHo salon. The loft-style space was created by architect Jorge Peña and designed in collaboration with Uhuru Design, which specialises in American-made furniture.
An installation of three fuzzy neon stalactites – commissioned by Ott in 2020 from Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, better known as Shoplifter – hang in contrast to the exposed brick surroundings, while also nodding to the daring colours and cuts for which Suite Caroline has become known. Ott will celebrate a decade of the New York salon’s avant-garde style in 2023.
‘Being from California originally and with Mexican native roots, I wanted to create a space that felt reminiscent of the desert coastal landscapes by way of Baja, Mexico and California in the 1970s,’ says Baja Studio owner Angela Soto. She opened her tranquil space in May 2019, after working for hair legend Guido Palau for five years, and has become known as a specialist in curly and highly textured hair, frizz-free keratin treatments and ‘natural, sunkissed, effortless hair achieved with balayage and our signature textured haircuts’.
Soto entrusted her friend Mark Silvestri of Silvestri Millwork and Painting to fabricate her own interior design and filled the space with succulents, palm leaves, cacti, hair products from Oribe and Reverie, and coffee table books. ‘We serve Negronis, burn Byredo candles, offer Aesop hand soap and keep organic tampons on hand. It’s important to me that clients feel pampered, like they are a guest in my home,’ she says.
Whiteroom is ‘dedicated to fostering community, providing an exceptional client experience and the craft of beauty’, says founder Elisabeth Leary who opened the Brooklyn salon seven years ago. The team, as passionate about hair and scalp health as the quality of the products they use, she says, ‘strategically apply and combine specific masques, scalp oils, and cleansing creams; we utilise heat and massage for thorough penetration’.
The space – designed by Leary and fabricated with the help of a local carpenter – was conceived to provide ‘a blank canvas for the work the stylists create. Uncluttered and unimposing, minimal and calming. I keep this in mind with every addition I make to the space,’ she says.
Nail studios with a twist
Sundays’ founder Amy Lin has dedicated her practice to being soft on the senses in every way. Lin worked with a chemist for a year after graduating from Columbia University with an MBA to formulate the perfect non-toxic polish, now Sundays’ signature product. ‘Our signature treatment is the Guided Meditation Manicure; we are the first to create the wellness experience in a nail salon setting,’ she says.
‘Sundays was designed like a home,’ she adds. Rather than ‘surgical bright lighting, we use warm lighting and have wooden floors with comfy warm grey chairs to create the Scandinavian-inspired home feeling.’ She assigned designer Andrew Weigand with the job of designing her New York salons, in NoMad and Hudson Yards – ‘He didn’t have experience in commercial real estate, which I thought was perfect, as it can help create a one-of-a-kind design, versus a copy-and-paste design,’ she says.
When curator Rita de Alencar Pinto launched Vanity Projects in 2008, it existed as a series of pop-ups in art spaces, including the homes and studios of artists and creative friends, as well as renowned institutions such as MoMA PS1. When she moved into her permanent spaces – in New York in 2013, followed by Miami in 2015 – the curation of video art was central to her concept.
‘Vanity Projects’ vision is to reshape the way patrons perceive and experience video art by placing it in an engaging environment,’ she says. ‘We specialise in innovative gel nail-art manicures from the most sought-after nail artists in the world,’ she continues, having hosted over 100 nail ‘artists in residence’ between her Miami and New York salons.
Tempting treatment rooms
Is there a more sought-after facial in New York currently? Kristyn Smith’s diminutive Tribeca salon is in contrast to her lengthy waiting list. Her newly opened space is intentionally designed on the smaller side among New York salons ‘so as not to overwhelm the waiting room’, she says. Interior designer Tony Fornabaio, who also worked with Smith on her former Chelsea salon, created a sanctuary in the Tribeca-Chinatown building, with curved walls that illuminate the space, a blush pink waiting room decorated with gifts from friends and clients, including glassware, crystal and a photograph by LA artist Alana O’ Herlihy.
Personalisation is her remit; whether you’re suffering from acne, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, or fatigue, Smith – who has studied reflexology, gua sha, aromatherapy and more – and her team will craft a unique treatment for you. ‘Our philosophy is both educational and state-of-the-art,’ she says, as a proponent of sculpting lymphatic drainage massage and micro-current treatments.
Smith also runs the non-profit 0303 Foundation, which ‘aims to provide specific skincare products that nurture and heal the skin to students across America who rarely have the access or means to afford them’, and provides education and training through classes and workshops with certified nutritionists, trainers and physiologists who address skin, diet, and mental wellbeing.
Acupuncturist Stefanie DiLibero founded her business in 2009 and opened her private acupuncture and facial studio in SoHo in 2018. Clients queue up for a session under her needles to rid themselves of stress and maximise wellbeing, a sentiment that’s reflected in the blissful surroundings of her salon, designed by architect Kyle May. ‘The lobby is lined in custom wood stacked to create an experience that is stimulating, not just visually, but physically and olfactory as well. The treatment room is conceived of as an ethereal space – white sheer curtains surround the entire space even over windows, with custom millwork housing the necessary products for treatment,’ states the architect.
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