Sam Jacob Studio melds an art gallery and hairdressing salon in a diminutive space in south London


Jim Stephenson

Sam Jacob Studio has completed the refurbishment of the DKUK Gallery in Peckham, south London. The space, backed by Arts Council England and run by artist and hairdresser Daniel Kelly, functions both as a gallery and salon. The new interior articulates DKUK’s part-commercial, part-cultural hybrid model as an architectural space.


To coincide with the opening of DKUK’s refitted salon, the gallery exhibited works by Sam Jacob Studio, in a show titled ‘Make It Real’.

“The design frames the display of art through the commercial infrastructure that supports and enables the ‘culture’”, says Sam Jacob. At the same time commercial references are repurposed for ‘cultural’ use, such as the Slatwall retail display system used to support exhibits. “Usually the way we look is conceived differently in a gallery or a salon”, says Jacob.

Mirrors and other visual devices are employed to give a sense of infinite space and ambiguity within the confines of the two-by-five-metre salon.

“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 to create a sense of infinite space that contrasts with the reality of the interior. Using these optical effects, the tiny space is transformed into a complex viewing device as well as a beautiful space to get your hair cut.”

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