Virtual Tour

Mizu New York

Music, modeling, world travel...this is the background of Vaughn Acord, owner of Mizu New York salon. Mizu has carved a sleek niche for itself, catering to East Coast men and women of style - and even serving as the background for the occasional Hollywood movie shoot. (Kate Hudson did a bit of filming there last summer.)

Here, Vaughn shares his secrets for creating a space where clients feel welcome (don't learn from Prada, he says) and every day feels like a photo shoot.

Mizu has been named a Salon of Distinction by Salon Today. What do you think are the elements of a great salon?
The thing that抯 tricky is that sometimes you can plan it out, get together with the right people卋ut if it doesn抰 have a good energy, then it抯 tough to make it happen. I抦 lucky, but it 揾appened here. When people come in, I抦 very quick to work on them and make them fit into the schedule. Richard Gere once came in for a half-hour haircut, and he stayed for more than an hour because he said the energy here was really good卆nd if there抯 anyone who knows energy, it抯 him.

With any business or any salon, either you feel comfortable in a place or you can抰 wait to get the f*ck out of there. Some places are too museum-like. For example, when Prada first opened, some of those stores were so pristine, but you would feel so uncomfortable. I think a space has to feel lived in, like it welcomes you. A lot of it抯 the people, the design, everything you come up with initially厃ou want to work with people who know what they抮e doing and who create the right atmosphere.

You use color to pull clients attention where it needs to be. How do you choose where to use color in your design - and why is it important?
It frames people. When you抳e got this kind of lighting in a salon, it抯 as if every client is taking part in a photo shoot. You frame them as you work on them and stare at them, and they stare at themselves for 45 minutes or an hour. Not a lot of people are privileged to see them that way. It抯 about color and light and presentation.

Did you help design the Mizu interior? Did you hire someone?
It was Damian Santiago抯, Leslie Hanson抯 and my idea to design a salon that looked like a living room. We wanted a lounge feeling卼hat airy peacefulness. We designed light structures so while people are waiting, they have a comfortable environment. We use floor-lamp design with great lamp shades where you could just sit and read.

What do you want customers to feel when they step into Mizu?
At-ease and like everything is going to be perfectly fine. It抯 great when people feel like they抮e onto something new, like they抳e found a safe place to experiment and just turn everything off for an hour.

Everybody wants to be stroked. Humans need people to touch them and make them feel better. They need the chance to talk. When you break it down and consider all the types of service businesses, we抳e got such an opportunity as hairdressers厃ou don抰 talk when you抮e getting a massage, at the dentist, getting your face done卛t抯 a conversation here, and you get to know people.

- JILL HILBRENNER

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