By  on March 11, 2005

NEW YORK — Salon owner Antonio Prieto is all grown up. After spending nearly a decade working out of his eponymously named salon in Chelsea here, Prieto has opened a new, larger space just a block away at 127 West 20th Street. Located on the ground floor of a turn-of-the-century town house, the new locale has a decidedly darker, earthy feel, compared to the off-white, red and black color scheme of his first venture.

“With this location, we took it to another level — this represents that I’ve grown up,” he said. “It’s like a natural progression, where you see things differently.”

Born and raised in Valencia, Spain, Prieto spent years on the fashion circuit, working for designers including Versace, Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen and then collaborating on editorial work with such powerhouse photographers as Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber and Stephen Klein. After six years in New York, he opened his first salon in 1995. But lately the 1,500-square-foot space was getting a little snug for his ever-expanding client base. “It couldn’t hold everyone,” he said. “We were working six days a week, 12 hours a day just to accommodate our clients.”

Designed by architect Derek Sanders of Can Resources (past projects include Los Angeles’ Standard Hotel and New York’s Lure Fishbar and Lever House restaurants) in conjunction with project manager Jason Volenec and interior designer Elizabeth Rubin, the 3,000-square-foot space includes a variety of textures. Walls in the main area of the salon were created using slabs of black-stained wood taken from an old barn, while the reception area is separated from the main room with a wall of travertine marble. Even the color scheme is rooted in texture, with a mixture of rich chocolate leather captain’s chairs, thick slabs of wood flooring and luminous birch tree-patterned glass partitions set off by white silk chandeliers, durable Xorel wallpaper and creamy leather-seated lounge areas.

“I’m very into nature,” said Prieto. “I wanted to have an earthy, organic environment, something warm but at the same time modern — I want my clients to feel comfortable and relaxed but still have a modern feel.”

In fact, the only color-infused area of the salon is courtesy of Kérastase, the upscale hair care brand Prieto has been carrying for three years. The salon’s entranceway features shelves stacked full of the colorful product line, as well as candles and soaps from Red Flower. In addition, the salon features an open “color bar” area, where colorists can mix formulas in plain view of the client. Prieto explained that he wanted, in a way, to expose this often-secretive process to the client. “I want them to mix everything in front of the client,” he said. “I want the client to know that there’s a lot of thinking, experimenting and mixing that goes into it.”While Prieto said that some clients were at first skeptical about the change in location, they have started to grow accustomed to the newer, more sophisticated version. “You know when you buy a new car and you think you’re going to still use the old one?” he said. “But then it’s like — wow, this is great — and you don’t want to go back.”

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