F: You have just launched your new luxury haircare-line, what was the process behind creating it?
AR: We started by defining our vision for the range. I’m a third generation hair artisan who has been cutting hair for nearly two decades. I work from our minimal, brutalist studio space in Melbourne and I have never been comfortable displaying or recommending cheap plastic and harmful haircare products to clients.
I wanted to have a product that was aesthetically beautiful, dark and luxurious, whilst still being extremely gentle and effective on the hair. These were all elements that I didn’t want to compromise on and were at the core of the design process.
My partner, Anushka and I spent three years developing the range and this has involved a process of researching, designing and testing various product and packaging solutions. At one point we scrapped everything we had done and started again, to present a range that is truly authentic to our vision.
We collaborated with SOME/THINGS agency in Paris who provided us with strong direction and guidance during early development of the range. We also partnered with a Melbourne chemist who had an exceptional ability to translate our avant-garde ideas and bring to life the product formulations.
F: When we think of Andy.R we think of artisanal and minimalism, how have you embraced this ethos in your new haircare?
AR: We basically wanted to create a black vessel that could sit in bathrooms as a sculptural object. Most, if not all, haircare products on the market appear to be visually noisey to me- I’ve always believed that less is more. It was a process of subtracting unnecessary elements that didn’t serve functionally in the packaging design.
When we were developing the formulations it was vital that the products didn’t contain harsh chemicals and that we only had the essential number of product variations. From my experience in the industry, product companies will develop 20 different shampoos that each have a “special” purpose - when in reality they are similar and its all a marketing ploy.
Each product has been refined with distinct, artisanal scents derived from essential oils and native extracts. We brainstormed a range of scents that were comforting to us and have reflected this throughout the range. For example, Grace of Shadows Shampoo is reminiscent of artists drinking absinthe long into the night - dreamy and addictive.
F: Australian botanicals are used throughout your range, was it important for you to use local ingredients? Why?
AR: It was definitely important to draw on the incredible native extracts available to us in Australia. Anushka and I had a strong desire to capture the apocalyptic beauty of outback Australia and the abundance of life in our wilderness.
The range is rich with local ingredients such as; Rosella, Waratah, Finger Lime Caviar, Mountain Pepper Berry, White Cypress, Kakadu Plum and Quandong extracts. Each of these are bursting with antioxidants and properties that are nourishing to the hair. For example, Kakadu Plum has the world’s richest source of Vitamin C. Our range also uses natural alternatives and is free from parabens, artificial colours or fragrances, harsh detergents, silicones, and sulphates (SLS).
F: Much like Fallow your work embraces individuality and freedom from trends, has it been challenging to go against the industry norm with the Andy.R brand?
AR: The ‘beauty/hairdressing’ industry is ingrained with stereotypes, fads, trends and prescribed ways of working. I’ve always felt uncomfortable in the industry and I’ve always viewed my work as more aligned to the arts. When I finally came to the realisation that I didn’t belong, it was actually liberating not to feel a need to conform.
ANDY.R is its own world. I don’t work within the pressures of the industry. I cut hair for as long as it takes to create, not the recommended 30 minutes. I don’t round brush blow wave, because i think its ugly and a well executed cut is all that is needed. I don’t bleach hair, because its cruel to the hair. I rarely cut in front of a mirror, because a little less vanity will save us all. My space is dark, its avant-garde, its experimental, and its a home for those few who venture away from the norm. It’s exactly how I like it.