Natural Expression

The latest Gary Manuel venture, Studio SLU in Seattle, merges natural beauty with high-tech edge, making it the perfect styling spot for the area’s young IT professionals.

Centered in Seattle’s South Lake Union (SLU) district, a small neighborhood created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, stands the new Gary Manuel Studio SLU. Co-owned by hair gurus Gary Howse and Manuel Benevich and opened in April, the Aveda Concept Salon is the community’s first full-service beauty establishment. Though just blocks from their other salons, the spot was chosen by the duo for its unique demographic, drawing from a completely different group of potential guests.

The salon, designed by architectural group Graham Baba, aims to attain a beautiful balance between the building’s concrete, glass and steel elements and an organic feel, underscoring Howse’s and Benevich’s love of nature. “With over 3,400 square feet, floor-to-ceiling windows, reclaimed wood-wrapped walls and ceilings, high-efficiency plumbing and lighting, and communal work/reception tables, the Studio location caters to today’s environmentally conscious, multitasking guests,” says Benevich. A glowing porthole is centered in a wood circle that extends onto the sidewalk, engulfing guests in a soft, natural cocoon as they enter the building. The interior lighting creates a flattering glow to enhance the lavish colors and styles created in the space, and all cabinetry is custom-made from stainless steel and black painted glass.


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Seventeen full-time designers man the studio’s 24 chairs, which are divided into pods of six stations. The two-sided, exposed color stations split these pods to provide convenience to the designers mixing color and privacy to guests. Services exclusively use Aveda products and range from cuts and color to the Botanical Hair and Scalp Therapy Treatment.

Catering to the area’s 20- to 35-year-old IT professionals while upholding Aveda’s philosophy, Gary Manuel Studio SLU meshes an abundance of natural materials with high-tech gadgets, benefitting both guests and stylists. For example, stylists use iPads for chemical formulas, guest records and future reservations. The design incorporates a speedy wireless network, with USB charging ports at all stations and at the Wi-Fi bar. It also features a permanent Usnaps Photo Booth, which instantly uploads photos to the salon’s website and video screen, to capture clients’ new hairstyles at their best.

“We encourage the use of electronic devices,” Howse says. “We want guests to be able to extend their workday, if that makes them more comfortable.” ✂ —Kristen Heinzinger