It's not just the hairstyles that are making waves at the Eric Alt Salon in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey. A new interior design element has changed the salon experience for the clientele and has them really talking—to each other.

 
Buddha stands guard from his place on the communal table, which has become a gathering spot for Eric Alt's clients and a place for them to get to know one another.


Owner Eric Alt recently transformed one of his workstation rooms at his bustling salon into a library-cum-lounge, complete with a massive table lacquered a vibrant yellow. Referring to it as the "Zen Den," because of the minimal decor and the Buddha figure standing guard, the setting offers clients the opportunity to sip tea, peruse beautiful travel and beauty books or just relax while waiting for their color o process. Sunlight enters through a gauzy white floor-to-ceiling curtain, which flutters in the breeze.

Meant to be a sanctuary away from the hustle and noise of the workstations, the room fosters socializing among Alt's customers. Lunch dates have been planned and contact information is exchanged on a daily bais in the convivial setting. "I love the fact that my clients get to know each other," he says. "The friendly feeling of the space is very contagious."

Who knows where the communal table trend started, but it has now moved from libraries to restaurants, and now, to the salon. Alt saw the idea at a salon in Italy, where he frequently travels, and said the decor itself was inspired by one of his favorite restaurants, Buddaken.

The room is eclectically furnished with Phillippe Starck Louis Ghost chairs arranged around the vintage yellow table. The walls are painted deep shades of charcoal and chocolate and framed with crisp white trim. The hardwood floors are stained a rich espresso brown. Sconces and candles add just the right amount of ambience and light.