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The Dove Salon Lands in Calif.

Christopher Dove and Sonya Dove Legendre bypassed ritzy salon haven Beverly Hills in favor of the seaside enclave of Santa Monica, Calif., to cultivate an unpretentious vibe in their first namesake U.S. outpost.

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Christopher Dove and Sonya Dove Legendre bypassed ritzy salon haven Beverly Hills in favor of the seaside enclave of Santa Monica, Calif., to cultivate an unpretentious vibe in their first namesake U.S. outpost.

"There is an affluence down here [in Santa Monica], but there is more of a real feeling that appealed to us," said Dove Legendre. Dove, who has been Dove Legendre's collaborator for nearly 30 years, added, "We didn't want to do the predictable thing of Beverly Hills."

The duo, along with business partner Philippe Legendre, who is also Sonya's husband (Dove and Dove Legendre used to be married), decided upon a 2,300-square-foot space, which opened last month in the Archstone building, a new mixed-used development with retail, apartments and eateries. "It was a completely empty shell. We were able to do everything from bare walls," said Dove.

They set out to transform the unsullied spot into an industrial salon with elements of warmth and gave architect Kaveh Amirdelfan an understanding of the seemingly contradictory style by showing him their Los Angeles area homes. "We wanted it to have a very clean, modern feeling, but we didn't want it to be too sterile and stark," said Dove. "You can see how confusing it would have been for someone that doesn't really know your character."

With Amirdelfan, interior designer Greg Bleier and the partners all on the same page, they vetted some 150 different tiles and woods and searched all over the world for appropriate fixtures and furniture. Red, stain-proof chairs in the salon are from Italy, clear shelving lit up from within hails from Japan and a curved concrete sign behind the reception illuminated by fiber optics was made in Hungary.

The flooring and lighting gave them the most trouble. They settled upon a soft maple for the floor that didn't soak up color like a sponge. And they worked hard to create even lighting by melding four different types of lights that didn't overly spotlight customers' hair to the determinant of their faces and vice versa.

The focal point of the salon is a stainless steel color bar that fits five stations and houses thousands of possible color varieties. "A lot of people say they have never seen a color area that big," commented Dove Legendre. Explained Dove, "When you are bringing a client over, you can carry on a conversation and keep everything nice and social. The feeling is that you are at your favorite cocktail bar."
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