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7 Dec

OOO-ing Studio, the hair salon defying Taiwan’s beauty taboos

Bringing jellyfish cuts and acid-neon color to the streets of Taiwan’s fastest-growing city, the Day-Glo masterminds behind OOO-ing Studio have kickstarted a movement, tackling social taboos head-on to inform stories through hair

Taken from the winter 2022 issue of Dazed. You’ll be able to buy a replica of our latest issue here

Tucked right into a quiet, narrow alley, it will be easy to mistake OOO-ing Studio for just one other hair salon in Taichung’s Nantun district. A skateboard sits outside as decoration, as it will on the foot of student halls or a shared house. Depending on the day, you would possibly see a motorcycle or scooter parked nearby (for young people in Taiwan, scooters are the mode of transport du jour). Inside, blinding fluorescent lights illuminate a stark white interior, and tall vertical mirrors sit in front of the space’s five customer seats. For a salon that has develop into world-renowned for offering latest perspectives on the art of hair dying, the studio is sparse on color and space.

Perhaps that is fitting. Because the studio’s art director, Light Liou, explains, the intention was to make it appear to be a laboratory for hairstyles. “After we start work every day, we’re like, ‘Let’s try something latest today,’” she says. “We’ve gotten used to trying out latest ideas on a regular basis. Individuals are often interested in it, but for us, it’s develop into quite normal.” The studio was founded in 2019 by friends Liou, May Wang and Wesley Wei, just as Taichung became Taiwan’s fastest-growing metropolis, having overtaken the southern port city of Kaohsiung as Taiwan’s second most populated city. “We didn’t open the shop for a specific reason,” says Wang, once we sit down with Liou to speak within the studio. “But we had the identical sense of direction.”

Though the studio’s stereo pumps throbbing techno, the atmosphere is laid-back and subtly electric
as we gather to speak. “We wanted an area of our own, an environment where we could have more
ease in our creation,” Liou explains. The salon’s title is derived from the undeniable fact that most Chinese names
comprise three characters; its ethos, says Liou, is to assist people realise and embrace every facet of
themselves. “To be blunt about it, we’re all weirdos,” she says. “[But] once we get together and hang around, we will really understand what’s weird about us. We frequently develop into friends with our customers, who in turn might bring their very own friends by, or it is perhaps that we find yourself helping them with performances or projects. It’s a technique of mutual aid.”

Their dream is expanding. The Nantun District salon is OOO-ing Studio’s second location in Taichung – the primary was a tiny three-seat salon in an apartment– and today, their influence is felt far beyond the confines of the town. While most of their Instagram followers are Taiwanese, the studio has received a wave of international attention this 12 months. “To start with, we didn’t think we might even have an audience,” admits Liou, “but once we developed one, we were first nervous, after which we steadily got here to feel a way of accomplishment.”

OOO-ing Studio’s signature styles involve airbrushed tints of neon Y2K-ish color, and taking strategic advantage of the naturally black hair of their typical customer. The usage of paintbrushes as a substitute of ordinary hair dye tools adds an additional layer of dimensionality, making for complex latticeworks of shapes, tones and shades. Beyond textural color, the three are elite hair-shapers, specialising in face-framing jellyfish cuts and a bewildering use of asymmetry. “We feel everybody has their very own style, regarding how they talk, how they interact with other people, how they dress or what they prefer to eat,” says Liou. “[Too many] people pursue what’s popular. I don’t think people ought to be categorised as being of 1 style or one other. It’s something you choose on yourself.” The trio approach their work from a standpoint of “total creation”, Liou raising an analogy with theatre. “Prior to now, it’d be more [about] caring for customers and their needs and making adjustments,” she says. “Now, we have the desire to make it so everybody is a personality. Like, you [Brian] are a personality, I’m a personality, and May can also be a personality.”

For Liou and the team, an impressionistic approach to hair is a method to rebel against lingering national taboos. “In Taiwan, the ‘mainstream’ has a way of safety for some people,” says the artist, whose marble-effect style could still provoke mild offence on the streets of her city. On this sense, the studio is closer to a movement than a standard startup enterprise, they usually recognise the salon’s wider social and cultural impact. Historically, colored hair has been stigmatised in a society that when saw authoritarian rule, with restrictions on hair length for men. In 2020, Freddy Lim, a Taiwanese politician and former frontman of the black-metal band Chthonic, was smeared as a drug addict and sexual deviant by opponents due to his formerly long hair. Just a few weeks prior to my meeting with OOO-ing, Taiwan’s highest government oversight body, the Control Yuan, announced an investigation right into a highschool for corporal punishment against students that violated hair and dress codes.

OOO-ing Studio’s work isn’t any longer about simply dying hair or perfecting shapes that exist already, but telling personal stories, painting pictures and weaving messages into locks. “Hair doesn’t stand for every part, but when you would like to have green today and red tomorrow, there’s nothing unsuitable with that,” says Liou. “That is something we wish to inform everyone. That it’s not only one alternative, but you’ve many selections, whether that’s hair or otherwise.” Establishing shop kickstarted a technique of creative and conceptual refinement that feels boundless for the group. Beyond collaborations with Farfetch and Swedish eye wear brand Sun Buddies, the trajectory is less about pocketing the following big project
and more about expanding the palate of possibility.

As I pack up to depart the space, I ask the trio what makes OOO-ing different from other salons in Taiwan, and what continues to assist it push the boat out for burgeoning hair creatives the world over. For Liou, the studio’s USP is that it has develop into a beating heart for the town’s thriving arts scene, which in turn inspires the group to push boundaries and feed off fresh ideas. “[Our clients’] interests are frequently art-related, and we also attract [the kind of] customers that is perhaps, say, bank clerks, but who’ve a streak of pink hair,” she says. “We attempt to work on implementing ideas collaboratively to create a mode. For us, it is a bit easier than simply working on a hairstyle.” For Wang, the reply is more easy: “These are those who appear to have the identical aesthetic as us,” she says. “A small minority of individuals in society have come together.”

Photography TUM LIN, OOO-ing Studio director LIGHT LIOU, hair WESLEY WEI and MAY WANG, casting MAY WANG, models ALLEN, JUNG KUO, GINNY LI, NICOLE HUANG

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