Marc Jacobs's Favorite Hair Salon Also Doubles as an Art Gallery

It’s also where Phillip Lim and Irina Shayk get their hair cut.

By: Tara Gonzalez
Photography: Alec Kugler

It’s likely that if you live in New York and have spent the day walking through art galleries in Chelsea, you’ve passed by Three Squares Studio. It’s also possible that you walked into the post-industrial loft expecting it to be an art gallery and not a hair salon before realizing that it’s actually both.

Jordan Blackmore, Andi Potamkin, and Niq Ellis founded the hair salon with a creative clientele in mind. Their walls are filled with art from both local and well-known artists that rotates every three months. Their bookshelves (made by Jordan himself) are filled with books on fashion, film, and art. Their mirrors, which are suspended from the ceiling, are considered communal because with one look you can see everything and everyone in the space. Designers like Marc Jacobs and Philip Lim and models like Irina Shayk call themselves regulars, so just the mirror reflections alone could serve as style inspiration for days. 

One visit, and we’re convinced all of our haircuts need to happen in an architectural drafting chair from the 70s under hanging Edison bulbs by one of the artists at Three Square Studio. Also, all bathrooms should definitely have a chandelier too. After you take a look at the photos, we have a feeling you’ll probably feel the same.

Click through to see the salon and to hear what Niq Ellis had to tell us about how he and Jordan met, finding design inspiration in Kentucky, and the dream that inspired the name.

“From day one, from people walking by on the street, we have so many people come in asking, ‘What is this place,’ especially if they don’t see anyone cutting hair.”

“It doesn’t look like a traditional hair salon with stations that stylists work in front of. We have two really large mirrors that hang from the ceiling; we call them communal mirrors. People that are getting their hair cut next to each other can communicate, or if you are getting your hair done, you can kind of look around to see what is going on in the salon by looking in the mirror, which is cool.”

“Jordan and I have been best friends since high school, and we always wanted to be in business with each other. We both do different things; he actually does hair, and we have both been in the hair industry since we were young. I think I started when I was 17 years old, and he started in the business when he was about 20. It ended up being that we both do different things, so we complement each other very well. He does hair, so he is the creative lead, and I do the numbers.”

“Jordan wanted to call it Three Squares Studio instead of Jordan Blackmore Salon because it’s not about our ego or ourselves. We were just trying to create a brand. We wanted our Three Squares logo to resonate like a Nike check would resonate. When somebody looks at it, they just know the brand.”

“Jordan saw three squares on his forearm in a dream, and then he went and got a tattoo of it that same week, and years later that became the name of our studio.”

“It’s definitely not a high foot-traffic area. I mean, we do have The Highline now, but we call it a destination location. You have to know where it is. We love Chelsea, being surrounded by all of the art galleries and being on the Hudson River, and the sunsets. Our lighting is great from the sunshine on the west side.”

“Besides being a hair salon and art gallery, the other thing we can do is become a cool loft space for events. Everything is moveable, which was another thing that was important when building the space; we wanted everything to be moveable, which it is. The carts are from a place called The First. They are from an American manufacturer in China from the early 1900s. Each stylist or artist uses them to put their tools and products on, but they can wheel them around the salon. We can hide them, we have used them as bar carts before, but they held dishes back in the day.”

“Jordan’s wife [Andi] is in the art industry, so we change the art on our walls every 60 to 90 days. It keeps everything current and fresh, and it keeps the salon from becoming stagnant. People expect to see change every few months, which is good because we work with hair stylists who are visual people, so it keeps things exciting. Even with the fashion designers, they are making new wardrobes every six months for fashion week. It is kind of the same in our studio; we keep the artwork flowing so it’s never the same. I think people get bored in our world if it’s not.”

“We do have a good number of very famous fashion designers that we see. I know salons in New York all see celebrities, but for some reason, we have become a haven for fashion insiders. We do cater to Brian Atwood, the shoe designer; Marc Jacobs is consistently at the studio; Phillip Lim, and James Mischka of Badgley Mischka. We do have a lot of fashion-forward people. Not even just big names, but people who are within the industry or work for cool brands as well.”

“We had so much wall space, we have really tall walls—I think they are 25 feet tall. The walls are just enormous, and we didn’t want to leave them bare. All of us love art, and we were surrounded by so many galleries, and we just wanted to maximize our space. We just said, "Let’s throw art on the walls." It’s creative, it’s artistic, and we work with artists; we call them artists, not stylists, to respect their creativity. The art just made sense.”

"We wanted to make it very comfortable, and we felt like being surrounded by wood, there is something organic-feeling about that. Jordan and I are from Kentucky. Jordan was born and raised in Kentucky on a small farm, so he has always had a thing [for this look]. He actually built the place by hand. He and his wife and his brother, who was in construction, basically built everything by hand besides the piping, the toilets, the air and the heat. He laid the flooring; he cut the wood around the columns, which is reclaimed wood from a church in Atlanta.”

“We have done photographs, we have done paintings, sculptures, and it’s either word of mouth or friends of friends or just any artists that we want to reach out to. We like to reach out to young artists that are not as well-known because they are a little more affordable, so our clients can actually buy the art off the wall. We have had very expensive art, which obviously is not going to sell like crazy; only a certain amount of people can do that. When we try to do younger artists that are cool with pricing their art a little more affordable so people can come in, get a haircut, and buy art for their home.”

“We didn’t want to be another salon with Okay! magazine and UsWeekly, so we built a bookshelf and then clients can read coffee-table books. We have books on art, fashion, and whatever, so clients can just take one off the bookshelf and read a book rather than a magazine for an hour.”

“Our chairs are from the '70s; they’re architectural drafting chairs. We didn’t want to make it stark white, like your cliché salon where everything is white and plastic-feeling. We wanted the opposite; we wanted it to be warm, where it feels like you’re sitting next to a fireplace, even though we don’t have a fireplace.”

“We have a Chandelier in the bathroom that is from Hudson furniture located on 14th Street. We thought it was nice. We also have a lot of dark leather that we thought was a nice accent to all of the wood, and a lot of brass."

“We have an amazing project we’re dropping this fall. It is going to be a luxury hair product—a trio of them. The whole thing revolves around hair health. It uses nutrition and the opposite of what is on the market now. Everything is so heavily influenced by chemicals and toxins. We are going to be focused on being toxic-free and not using chemicals in our products, which is a very challenging thing to do in the hair industry, because a lot of the time the chemicals are what make the hair products work. We feel amazing about it, and we think it's going to be a killer product.”

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