District is a new and natural extension of Surry Hills’ creative complex, The Stables. Opened last month, this hair salon and events space is on the top floor of the Bourke Street building that also houses The Stables Co-op retail store, which sells carefully chosen designer fashion and Venus Wholefoods.
It rounds off the The Stables’ boutique department store feel and, with a cast of specialist hair stylists, offers a high-quality service in a relaxed and creative environment.
Six hair stylists, who each excel in their chosen field, will be working at District. From District’s sister salon, Audrey & Him in Newtown, there is Rubi Fernandes and Cushla McManaway, who bring colour expertise and 15 years of experience in the business. From the world of fashion, cutting specialist Stewart Foreman, and editorially trained stylist and co-owner Frankie Endersbee will also be in residence, supported by two senior stylists; Rachel Hyde and Madison Voloshin. Co-owner of The Stables Danny Sekulich believes bringing together people with different specialties will encourage each party to up their game while enjoying an environment in which they can feel creative.
The salon will provide a more relaxed experience than what you’re probably used to. “The hair industry can be a bit over the top,” says Sekulich. I think it needs to be toned down a little, because you could become ‘Vegas’ too quickly. Sometimes there is too much glamour when people really just want to feel good about themselves.”
There is no style-of-the-season he says. Rather, the team works to enhance your natural attributes. “For me, how your hair was when you were five is probably how it should be; the variation and the softness,” says Endersbee. “I’m a very natural hairdresser.”
Healthy, relaxed, natural. These are themes carried through to the interior design, completed by Henry Wilson, a designer skilled in allowing the inherent properties of a building to shine. Wilson also designed the ground-floor store and cafe. Its characteristics – natural light and wooden touches – have been continued upstairs. But new elements have been introduced to make the salon an entity in its own right, like wooden rafters and exposed brickwork contrast with slick black finishes. Plenty of plant life and a Le Corbusier table, scattered with art, design and fashion magazines make the space feel comfortable but cool: like the effortlessly curated living-working space of your imagination.
There’s a lightness of touch here, which hints at the salon’s versatility. Its features are flexible and as such it can be transformed back into the events space it always has been and will continue to be.
Should you wish, you can order lunch from Venus Wholefoods (salads and super-food smoothies) and eat it on the balcony overlooking Bourke Street. Or peruse and buy items – such as magazines, candles and Turkish hammam towels – from the retail store downstairs.
“In allowing this connection, we really want to make people feel like they can enjoy the entire building,” says Sekulich. “We’re not in a shopping centre and we’re not in a very high-traffic thoroughfare, so we really wanted to focus on destination and discovery and trying to embrace the local community of Surry Hills.” With District, and the whole of The Stables by extension, Sekulich hopes people will opt for “experience over the convenience of parking.”
It’s relevant that The Stables is one of the founding members of the Surry Hills Creative Precinct, a banding together of local small businesses that hope to integrate and strengthen a sense community in the local area. This single hub is something of a microcosm of the precinct’s overall activity.
Beyond that, and with a close relationship now established between District and Audrey & Him in Newtown, Sekulich is excited about how this might contribute to Sydney’s changing cityscape. “I love that the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West are really coming close together,” he says. “If it continues to happen over the next five or 10 years, then we could have something very similar to Melbourne, where those suburbs are so connected that you can walk from one to another and experience things all the way.”
In the meantime, District is destination enough: a holistic experience that will cater to your every sensibility and leave your hair looking great to boot.
Level 2, 352 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
(02) 9331 8635