Industry DTLA

Not limited to hanging pieces on blank and barren walls, art is an entity which isn’t looking for the acceptance of critics. Instead, art can be a moving, breathing and tangible being-formed by wisps of fresh-cut hair drifting to the floor, or by whimsical and graceful brushstrokes adorning eyelids.

Each brushstroke, whether it be on a bare canvas or a bare cheekbone, is art. Forging a collaborative space to create art through means of self expression collectively and independently is the purpose behind the salon Industry DTLA, a recent addition to the neighborhood.

Not only a salon, but a sort of arena for the arts, Industry DTLA considers the complete ability to express yourself as a pivotal characteristic of art. Without the freedom one feels from true expression everyday, art recedes.

“In order to really express yourself, you have to feel free,” Industry DTLA owner Christian King said.

An important characteristic of Industry DTLA is it’s intentional purpose of being a sort of a creative work studio instead of simply being a place to get your hair done.

“We named it Industry because I didn’t want it to be limited to just hair…hair is just hair, you’re not saving the world,” King said. However, King realizes that hair is part of it. Hair is a branch of stylized art and the way people express themselves daily.

“This is a creative work studio. It’s very relaxed and more of a lifestyle place…we use it more as an umbrella for individuals. It’s a concept studio and a collaboration where people can work underneath one roof toward a common goal but still grow as individuals.” King said.

Opened in early 2013, Industry DTLA is a product of King’s desire to establish a place conducive for true expression in one of LA’s most burgeoning neighborhoods.

“I wasn’t getting what I wanted where I was before. I wanted a space with creative freedom and [to establish] more of a lifestyle brand,” King said.

Already a resident of downtown, King was thrilled to find a space in the blossoming area. “I luckily found this space. I looked in this area because of all the growth coming here and I like being so close to the fashion district.”

Chopping locks had been a good gig for King at notable salons such as Nihule and Salon 6, but it wasn’t fulfilling his creative desires.

“I wanted more control of my  life and to go on my own. I figured hey, I want to open my own place, I want to be apart of the community and I luckily found this place. It was an empty canvas, nothing was in here so I was able to just create.”

Lofty, 15-feet ceilings frame the 600 square foot workspace with exposed piping and modern features. Although-as the name implies-the design is industrial, it also retains a certain amount of warmth and a patina-like quality with worn, wooden pieces designed by local artist.

The blank canvas that was the space originally became King’s project. Working tirelessly, King continued to work during the day as a stylist and by night would work on his budding project.

“The space is the best. It was completely white and empty when we started. Nothing was here so I was able to just create.”

Creating the feel of the space became an avenue for King’s expression. For the first time in his life, he had full reign and no need to compromise.

In addition to a superb design, the need to find the right people to be part of the studio was imperative. Whether it be as a hair stylist, a makeup artist, barber or one of the many designers showcased at Industry, King wanted to find people with a collective mentality in regards to expression and being a part of the community.

“We need to have people that are a good fit, that are a part of downtown, that want to be a part of downtown”

An example of a good fit is the salon’s barber Shane Lichterman. A longtime resident of downtown, Lichterman was keen on being a part of Industry DTLA for the chance to work among stylist as a barber and also because of the location.

“It’s obviously different being a stylist than being a barber. It’s a good environment because from watching them work I can learn a lot,” he said.

From years of working and living in downtown, Lichterman has seen a great deal of diversity and transformation in the area.

“The south side of downtown is really starting to come up. It’s changed tremendously but still is gritty and edgy,” he said. Fortunately the neighborhood hasn’t experienced full gentrification which Lichterman said would be bad for the community. “Total gentrification takes away from the true flavor.”

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” – Coco Chanel

Fashion is a huge part of Industry DTLA and with the help of King’s alla moda girlfriend, Cinzia Simone, some of Los Angeles’ key designers are featured at the studio.

Local designers like For Love and Lemons, Again Apparel, 8 Other Reasons and Rewind are all examples of archetypal LA style, lending way to the developing “downtown chic.”

“There is a lack of mid-end clothes and nice clothes downtown. There’s a lot of cheap clothes-so we’re trying to change that. There’s going to be creating a design studio downstairs to start our own line eventually,” King said.

The intention is to design creative, chic and high-quality clothing that will fit the LA sense of style.

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” – Yves St Laurent

Bringing the glam to downtown is definitely part of what Industry DTLA is working to do. Last month they had their first of what will be many parties.

A chromatic display of every color imaginable, ornate fabrics from velvet to leather and many of LA’s pretty things came out for Industry’s first party on July 11. Throughout the night, there were about 250-300 people. The idea is that by creating a space where people have the chance to truly express themselves, the art will follow.

“I don’t even really benefit from the parties, it’s just my way of sharing back with the neighborhood,” King said.

Mini makeovers, flowing champagne and art aplenty are a few of the features of Industry’s parties. The salon intends to have a party about every three months. Each party will feature a local artist in addition to clothing and apparel from local designers. Perhaps even a fashion show down the line.

The point is just to bring the community together in the name of expression and creativity.

“Everything has been very organic, it’s been very natural…it’s to be a part of the revitalization of downtown LA, because we’re not just LA-we’re downtown.”