Salon of the Year

SOTY 2015: Buzz Salon

Stacey Soble | May 28, 2015 | 1:31 PM
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Iowa City, Iowa
Owner: Jodi Connolly
Established: April 2014
Salon style: Modern, Minimalist, Organic
Square footage: 2,200
Stations: 12
Equipment: Takara Belmont
Furniture: David Naso
Total design investment: $700,000
Retail lines: Oribe, Shu Uemura, Kerastase
Color line: Wella
Design by: Neumann Monson Architects
Architects: Newmann Monson Architects
Photography: Newmann Monson Architects, Assassi Productions, Mainstreet Studio

When envisioning the reincarnation for her boutique-style Buzz Salon, owner Jody Connolly liked the feel of industrial chic, but thought it was overdone. When a developer, who was also a client, offered her the opportunity to purchase space in a new 14-story building being planned for downtown Iowa City, she was prepared. Taking part of the first and second story of the glass-walled building, Connolly started creating her vision for an urban treehouse.

Connolly designated the entire first floor for retail—creating a luxury shopping experience that welcomed both clients, as well as shoppers who don’t have appointments. She then split the second level into two mezzanines that accommodated 12 work stations and a shampoo area. “The height and the double-paned exterior glass walls give clients a sense of privacy, while allowing them to enjoy a unique vantage point to view the pedestrian mall below,” she says.

Securing a large quantity of walnut, Connolly’s woodworker designed stations from continuous, organically-shaped slabs, which house mirrors that slide back and forth, so clients can opt to people-watch while their color processes. The staff designed their own mobile trays to house tools, products and supplies, so the stations are kept clean at all times.

Under the stations, Connolly opted to cover the gorgeous, polished concrete floors with fitness flooring, the likes of which are used in gyms and yoga studios. The flooring withstands color spills and is a comfort to long-standing stylists, and it can easily be replaced after showing wear from being trampled by high heels. “It did prove challenging to sweep hair off the flooring, but we quickly learned we can blowdry it onto the concrete where it easily can be swept up,” Connolly laughs. 

Two large, vertical signs featuring Buzz’s logo create their own art element. In fact, one of the signs hangs from a guillotine-style pulley and that is pulled down at night to serve as a door for the retail space which opens onto a common waiting area the salon shares with the building’s lobby. “Our architect came up with this clever solution, but it took him an additional week to figure out how to hang the door,” Connolly says.

To keep things running smoothly between the work area upstairs and the retail downstairs, a concierge visits each client mid-appointment to pre-book their next visit and ring up retail requests, then collecting the retail and delivering right to the client. “It’s helped tremendously with retail sales, plus being in a building with a communications company, a software firm and luxury apartments is responsible for our client base growing 30 percent,” Connolly says.

Owners’ Comments:
“My architects and I wanted clients to walk up the staircase and embrace a feeling of being in an ‘urban treehouse.’ Everyone does industrial chic, so we wanted simple, hideaway chic.”
Judges’ Comments:
“The two-tier layout, with unique staircase, places a retail boutique on first floor and services on the second—equal play for two essential salon elements.”—Jan Hillenmeyer
“The juxtaposition of concrete and warm wood makes this space unique, warm and sleek.”—Laurel Nelson
“The use of wood to balance the concrete and glass is beautiful. I really appreciate the design of this salon’s custom stations and a minimalist approach.”—Tomy Lulgjuraj

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