Stepping into Usfin Atelier’s inner-west Sydney salon, you feel a little more like you’re about to experience a conceptual art show rather than a haircut. While the St Peters space might look clinical and cutting-edge, the atmosphere created by staff is warm and inviting. In fact, Usfin Atelier pride themselves on being inclusive and genderless.
The light-filled 300 square metre studio is on the top floor of an old paint factory. Blank white walls are punctuated with metallic flashes of aluminium and exposed elements that pay homage to the industrial location. The monochrome space was conceived by interior designer George Livissianis, who is also behind some of the city’s finest hospitality establishments including Cho Cho San, Chin Chin, and The Apollo.
Usfin Atelier founder and creative director Daniel Jianing Liu was drawn to working with Livissianis as he felt their vision was aligned. “There was a quote from George that really touched me. He said, ‘I don’t like decoration. It sounds odd for an interior designer to say that but I don’t like decorative things that are there just to fill a space. If it’s not required, then I question it.’ I found this incredibly similar to my approach to hair. If the client’s hair already has a beautiful natural texture, I won’t be doing anything extra to change the texture. We are here to enhance your natural beauty, not to change who you are,” Liu explains of the Usfin philosophy.
In one corner of the salon there are futuristic plastic-wrapped sofas. In another, a giant Gaetano Pesce foot-shaped sculptural lounge. A set of transparent Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs border a silver bench in the colour-mixing lab. Everything is neat and tidy, hidden-away. Cutting stations are enclosed inside discreet mobile pods, which can easily be moved about the vast space when it is hired out for photo shoots and events. With this level of detail, it’s no surprise that the space was awarded the prestigious Premier Award for Australian Interior Design in 2019.
“Atelier is a French word meaning workshop. I always wanted to create an environment that was different from a traditional hair salon, a place where customers could truly relax and appreciate the work of our hair stylists,” Liu tells Really Well. “This environment also allows our hair stylists to get inspired and express their creativity, too.”
Usfin Atelier St Peters is located at Suite 2.21, 75 Mary Street, St Peters. (They also have a salon in the CBD, located at 5/591 George Street). You can follow Usfin Atelier on Instagram and find out more here. Photography by Alexis Aquino for Really Well.