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La Dolce Vita

Museums, Federico Fellini films, Prada boutiques and the interiors of Ferraris may not seem like obvious choices to find inspiration for salon design, but those are the exact places salon owner Cristiano Cora looked to while conceiving Cristiano Cora Studio, which opened in February in Manhattan's Union Square neighborhood.

"I didn't want to have a salon with just mirrors and chairs," Cora says. "I wanted to create an atmosphere so that when the client walks in, she feels like she's somewhere."

Curvy red shampoo chairs punctuate the predominantly white space at Cristiano Cora Studio.
Curvy red shampoo chairs punctuate the predominantly white space at Cristiano Cora Studio.

Cora, who was born just outside Venice, Italy, says he wanted the second-floor space to echo contemporary Italian design: minimalistic, with seamless movement incorporating both curved and straight lines. The airy, predominantly white space, designed by architect Avi Oster, is punctuated by sinuous red shampoo chairs and graphic bronze accents around the mirrors, which Cora says "create a warm glow around the face." Cora traveled to Italy to pick out the Maletti furniture—the Organic Dreams collection designed by Ross Lovegrove, provided by Takara Belmont. To ensure the space always looks clean and tidy, discreet cubbyholes under the mirrors conceal stylists' tools and products.

Lighting was equally important to Cora, who insisted that it look as natural as possible, without creating a "spotlight" effect. To accomplish this, the ceiling is made out of latex to diffuse the light without creating any harsh shadows.

Furthering the Italian theme, the salon plays a sound track of Italian pop and classics and offers clients cappuccinos, Peroni beers, S.Pellegrino waters and espressos, in addition to retailing the Italian haircare brand Davines. "Everything relates to my country," Cora says.

CLOCKWISE, FROM top left: Retail products from Davines are displayed in a museumlike setting; the lounge area; Maletti's Organic Dreams furniture designed by Ross Lovegrove for Takara Belmont complements the salon's modern, sleek design.
CLOCKWISE, FROM top left: Retail products from Davines are displayed in a museumlike setting; the lounge area; Maletti's Organic Dreams furniture designed by Ross Lovegrove for Takara Belmont complements the salon's modern, sleek design.

The salon offers only cuts, color and treatments. Cora also hosts classes for hairdressers in the studio on Sundays and Mondays. "We do classes here because I'm a former creative director and educator for Vidal Sassoon," says Cora, who left Italy at age 18 to work for Vidal Sassoon in London, Los Angeles and New York City before he decided to open his own salon.

"I never thought in my life that I'd open my own space," Cora says, "but something clicked and it came very natural to me. I like the artistry of hair. Even though we are not recognized so much in the fashion industry, I believe we are sculptors and painters." —LOTUS ABRAMS

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Lotus Abrams

Lotus Abrams