Monday, November 19, 2012

SJP by design

Savio John Pareira’s salon is deemed one of the trendiest salons in Mumbai. StyleSpeak finds out what makes it so special

Urmi Chanda-Vaz

Savio John Pareira is a familiar name to anyone worth his salt in the hairdressing industry. But it is not just his hairdressing skills that have earned him loyal clientele. His effusive charm and his beautiful salon are also responsible for Savio John Pareira’s fame in equal parts. When I entered this industry, his was a name that I overheard frequently in conversations. It was only recently that I had an opportunity to meet him and discover why Savio John Pareira and his salon by the same name has become what it is today.

First impressions
That the Savio John Pereira (SJP) Salon is located near Carter Road is Bandra is its first winning point. After all, who can resist a little walk through one of the hippest places in Mumbai? So I went around asking for this famous salon, enjoying the locality with old style bungalows and sea breeze wafting off the promenade. When someone pointed it out to me, I asked him twice, because all I saw was a crumbling old 2-storey house. But my guide insisted that it was the place I was looking for, and sure enough, the artsy logo combining the letters S, J, P was right up there. For a moment I wondered how one of Mumbai’s most talked-about salons could be holed up in such a tiny place, but then first impressions aren’t always right.

The interiors
I took a flight of high stairs, and crossing a small waiting area, entered the salon. And lo! The reasons for the popularity of this uptown salon were revealed to me. The salon is on the first floor of the century-old colonial building, and looks deceptively big for its 980 sq. ft. area. It looks huge mostly because of the high ceilings, but also because the place has been cleverly designed. The interiors are a visible amalgamation of various styles. While the feel of the place is old-school, the furnishings are contemporary. It is a mix-and-match between a warm wooden palette and white-grey modern one. However, there is perfect harmony in this married concepts look. Savio tells me how he has borrowed ideas from several places across the globe – but mostly Europe.

“I travelled extensively during 2008-2009,” Savio told me. “I went to Europe, South America, England, and other countries. In the short stints that I worked in those places, or simply visited them, I learnt a lot about their architecture. You will see a lot of European influences in my salon,” he added, as I nodded in agreement.

The furnishing
 The salon has been jointly designed by Savio and architect/interior designer Payal Makwana. As stated before, the salon lends a very warm ambiance, primarily because of the wooden-style flooring (which are really special tiles), beige upholstered sofas, and chandeliers casting a soft yellow light. Savio is rather proud of his chandeliers and tells me they’ve been bought from a humongous 10,000 sq. ft. shop called Chimera, where, Savio insists, one can find all sorts of lights.

I quiz Savio about the furniture, and he tells me that he got all of it custom-made, so that the salon wouldn’t clutter up, and retain its, what he calls, ‘openness’. The red and gold cushions on the sofas add an interesting touch. The back washes, of course, are ready made and are three in number. There are seven haircutting stations placed against tall mirrors, and one mani-pedi station. There are more mobile foot soak tubs for when the need arises. There is one treatment room where body treatments and/or facials are done. My favourite part of that room was the iconic black-and-white poster of Audrey Hepburn from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

Several other pictures of music icons also find place on one of the salon walls, along with small bookshelves, and eclectic English music constantly plays in the salon to match that mood. What make the place even cooler are the booze bottles that have been used as flower vases!

The challenges
I am impressed, and ask him what challenges he faced while creating such a lovely place. “Redoing the plumbing was our biggest challenge,” he gravely says. All the building’s old pipes had to be pulled out and done over again. No compromise could have been made, considering plumbing is one of the most important aspects of a salon’s design. Another challenge was the cost factor. Aside from the fact that the rent of the place is huge in expensive Bandra, doing it up cost him about 80 lakh back in 2009 when the Savio John Pereira salon was started. Even today, the fear of redevelopment looms large, but SJP is safe for the moment, because the building is heritage property. It is within this beautiful place that Savio John Pereira and his 27-member team makes Mumbaikars beautiful, and we sure hope it stays that way.

This article appeared in the May 2012 issue of StyleSpeak - The Salon & Spa Journal.

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