Fast Company: Inside a wildly futuristic, gender-neutral hair salon


Hairstyling institutions are one of the few businesses that remain explicitly gendered in their design. They even go by different names–barber shops for men, hair salons for women–and the gender they cater to is often explicitly integrated into each space, with leather and wood touches for men and more feminine flourishes for women.

But Usfin Atelier, a salon in Sydney, recently redesigned to be completely gender neutral. Run by the stylist Daniel Jianing Liu, Usfin Atelier caters to anyone interested in its edgy aesthetic. The space’s design, by the Australian architect George Livissianis, is appropriately sleek and monochrome–it’s the people (and their fabulous hair) that stand out in the shop, where white paint, glimmering metal, and transparent polycarbonate create the salon equivalent of a blank canvas.

Liu doesn’t just use the space, located in an old paint factory warehouse, to style hair–he also hosts events and artist collaborations. That meant the salon needed to be flexible, so Livissianis created what he calls “hair station pods” that can be wheeled out and wheeled away when no longer needed. They’re like mobile salon stations, which can be rearranged and spread out as needed. Meanwhile, the less glamorous aspects of getting a haircut–like the hair washing stations and a place for stylists to mix colors–are hidden behind a polycarbonate structure that provides some privacy.

Words by KATHARINE SCHWAB. Check out more articles on Fast Company here:

Daniel Jianing Liu