Behind the Red Door
Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 10/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
For nearly a century, the Elizabeth Arden brand has been defined by red—the color of the door to the cosmetics pioneer's first shop, which opened in New York in 1910. Today, the scarlet-accented interior at the city's new Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa is the work of Brennan Beer Gorman Monk/ Interiors.
Elevators tucked behind a ground-level retail space in Midtown bring clients to the sixth-floor salon, where BBGM partner Christina Hart conceived the 5,500-square-foot interior as a group of four wedge-shape zones radiating from a "keyhole." The circle at the top of the keyhole houses the reception area, its floor clad in red quartzite tile. "It's our way of signaling that you've stepped inside the red door," explains Hart.
Shades of scarlet reappear in the vinyl covering the manicure zone's bench as well as the hair salon's padded chairs in the mode of Charles and Ray Eames. Another repeating element, veneer of cerused oak, was considered the epitome of luxury in the 1920's, says Hart. With white glaze rubbed into the oak grain to update the look, the veneer makes a first appearance on the 10-foot-long reception desk and the curved wall directly behind.
The wall is inset with rectangular acrylic panels that owe their vertical striations to embedded reeds. A similar treatment appears with bear grass embedded in the doors to the private room where resident hairstylist Raul Vega holds court. "It's like stepping into an oasis," says Nancy Mah, the BBGM associate who worked with Hart on the project.
Most clients, however, have their hair washed and colored in an open zone delineated by walls surfaced in cool blue back-painted glass. White Corian tops the 16 double-sided styling stations, their mirrors separated by strips of backlit acrylic, but flooring is considerably darker: Hart chose chocolate-brown porcelain tile, which is impervious to staining from hair dyes.
Flooring in the adjacent styling area is brown acrylic-impregnated walnut, able to camouflage any stray stains that might occur. For the manicure and pedicure zones, Hart opted for celery-green quartzite tile. "It's a happy color that can go both ways—young and energetic, yet calming," she explains.
The green quartzite complements the gray polypropylene shells of Philippe Starck's swivel chairs, set on castors, and the gray aluminum and polyurethane of Maarten van Severen's swivel chairs—paired at the 10 manicure stations. Nearby, a freestanding 15-foot-long cubby system of cerused oak gives staff access to clean towels.
In the pedicure zone, a Damien Hirst–inspired backlit acetate screen displays a composition of dots in Elizabeth Arden nail-polish colors, and a cluster of Achille Castiglioni's Fucsia glass pendant fixtures hangs above a four-sided banquette, a modern interpretation of the round velvet-covered one that appointed Arden's first salon. Here, the upholstery is vinyl and, of course, lipstick red.