Sam Jacob designs Peckham hair salon and gallery where clients look at artwork

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Sam Jacob designs Peckham hair salon where clients look at artwork instead of themselves

Architect Sam Jacob has overhauled a hairdressers-cum-gallery in southeast London, so now customers stare at artworks rather than their reflections while they get a trim.

DKUK by Sam Jacob

Sam Jacob Studio updated the DKUK salon and gallery by applying strips of mirror to the slatted walls, and adding vibrant yellow shelves and matching furniture.

He was also invited by the salon's owner, hairdresser and artist Daniel Kelly, to curate the first exhibition in the newly renovated gallery, which is backed by Arts Council England.

DKUK by Sam Jacob

For the show titled Make It Real, Jacob displayed a range of his own products, including scarves knitted with woodgrain patterns, T-shirts printed with building's facades and a collection of objets d'art.

The pieces, as well as several brightly coloured prints of windows, offer an alternative to the traditional mirror-heavy salon interior.

DKUK by Sam Jacob

"Usually the way we look is conceived differently in a gallery or a salon," said Jacob, who is also a Dezeen columnist. "The design explores the act of looking through the use of frames, translucencies, perforations and reflections. The space also considers how we are seen (or not) just as much as how we see."

"The mirror, often the central feature of a hair salon and filled with our own reflection, is used here as a spatial device," he added. "Mirrors are used to create a sense of infinite space that contrasts with the reality of the interior."

DKUK by Sam Jacob

The items hang from shop-style hooks on the slatted walls of the space which, at just two-by-five metres, claims to be London's most petite gallery.

It is tucked away from the main Peckham thoroughfare on Holdron's Arcade, a narrow passage of shops and cafes. Kelly, who has been running the space for two years, bases his price list on hair length rather than gender.

DKUK by Sam Jacob

"DKUK offers artists a unique environment for showing and developing work, away from the pressure of the commercial art world and the growing complexities of the 'publicly' funded spaces," explained Jacob.

"The design frames the display of art through the commercial infrastructure that supports and enables the 'culture'," he continued. "At the same time, commercial references such as the Slatwall wall display system are repurposed as an abstract, graphic gallery display mechanism."

DKUK by Sam Jacob

Jacob also created a sound installation titled Selenophonia for the show. Speakers set about the sink play an echoey voice recording of the geographical features of the moon, which was created in the Whispering Gallery of St Paul's Cathedral.

"It echoes Christopher Wren's own obsession with the Moon – he measured, mapped and then made the most accurate Moon Globe – the piece suggesting that perhaps the dome of St Paul's is also both architecture and a moon-like thing," Jacob told Dezeen.

Sam Jacob, who was a director at the now-defunct practice FAT before setting up his own studio, has previously erected an Adolf Loos-designed mausoleum in Highgate Cemetery.

Make It Real continues at DKUK until 12 March 2017.

Photography is by Jim Stephenson.

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DKUK by Sam Jacob
DKUK by Sam Jacob
DKUK by Sam Jacob