Gone are the days when people learnt one skill and practiced that for their entire lives. This is the 21st century, after all, and in the creative world, it's important to differentiate one's aesthetic and mode of work so as to stay ahead. British-born, Sydney-based hairdresser Leonard Mattis is well aware of the competitive nature of his industry, but his efforts to parlay his natural eye for style and design aren't a bid to outdo his peers; he's simply interested and engaged in the cultural landscape that surrounds his salon, in a sleepy enclave of Surry Hills.
Born and raised in London's East End, and having earned his stripes at the acclaimed Smiths Salon in Soho, Mr Mattis moved to Australia in 1998 for love and hasn't left since. The hairdresser spent for years travelling and consulting under the guise of Antony Whitaker Hairdressing, and a decade ago, made the leap to open his own namesake salon. Since then, he's built an ever-growing client list and, more recently, expanded his space to allow for further, organic growth and to support extracurricular projects. Indeed, next month he'll unveil an exhibition by Sydney artist Lexi Land, with a special event to celebrate its opening with music outfit Van She, and the salon's two-level space will play home to a revolving roster of exhibiting artists from then on.
Interested in design, architecture and the visual arts - with coffee table tomes piled high throughout the salon as an indication - Mr Mattis took it upon himself to redesign his apartment-cum-salon, opting for an all-white colour palette that's both calming to his clients and acts as a blank canvas for the artwork, including one of Ms Land's paintings that can be seen below. The aim, he explains, is to keep things interesting for both his clients and himself.