Interview with DKUK

by Valentina Orrù

18/01/2020

Last month while walking down Queens Road in Peckham, South London, I was happily surprised to encounter DKUK, a hair salon like no others. Established in 2014, DKUK is a hair salon with no mirrors that offers haircuts and colour in front of art. Whether you need a haircut or just want to see some art, the salon welcomes everyone, all hair types and lengths.
With a rich programme of exhibitions, events and hairdressing trainings for artists, DKUK is a great new model for supporting artistic practices and making contemporary art more accessible. I spoke to Daniel Kelly, artist/hairdresser and funder of DKUK and Lucy Cowling, exhibitions programme manager at the salon to find out more.

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The podcast exists to demystify and discuss what it means to be a creative practitioners living and working in London. So this could be in terms of how to survive, develop and grow, but also research interests for their practice or day-job, related back to daily life. In a way, it reflects a lot of the types of conversations that already happen in the salon between stylists and clients.

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We say we are not a salon and not a gallery, and not even really a hybrid of both, rather creating something different altogether. We have started referring to the space DKUK inhabits as a studio to more aptly reflect the different types of artistic labour that happen within the walls. Business management is also very central to the activity; every DKUK employee using management tools and software, is aware of takings and KPIs and is involved in developing the business’ long-term goals. So in that sense, yes, it could be described as an ‘art-business’; we look to incorporate the benefits of artistic training and a way of seeing the world into what constitutes a ‘proper’ business.

  1.  Be realistic; set up a business plan and goals, broken down backwards to small steps.

  2.  Define what makes you unique.

  3.  Have fun with it!

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Multiple DKUK’s are not in the air yet. But we are hoping to be able to expand the training programme to grow into a ‘DKUK Academy’.
What we have cooking in the short-term is a bigger focus on our own creative output. This will include working with artists to develop a series of styled hair looks incorporating different artistic media, with a DKUK Annual Collection Show art directed by the entire staff opening in mid May.
Also new for 2020 is that we are now offering ‘talk-free’ haircuts. We have noticed that a lot of clients come specifically due to the lack of mirrors around the place being more relaxing, so we have started to think of all the ways we can be more inclusive and potentially reduce anxiety.

Follow DKUK here.