Combining the Physical and Digital: Is There a Place for AI in Hairdressing Collections?

Published 12th Mar 2024 by Charlotte Grant-West

Seung Ki Baek’s Southern Hairdresser of the Year winning collection ‘Mixed Reality’ showcases inarguably unique and innovative colour work, but is there a place for AI in hairdressing collections?

Although Baek categorically did not use AI to create colour or manipulate his hair imagery for his collection for the British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional, he does cite it as an inspiring force in the formation of his work.

The collection combines colour techniques that are both physical and digital, Baek uses UV colour and virtual objects to create hair colour that's truly out of the ordinary. 

Find out how his collection came to life, and how hairdressers can harness AI to inspire creativity. 

The Artistic Team member at RUSH Hair initially painted and sprayed on the hair colours of choice, before using different forms of lighting to enhance the hair colour and show the different tones created within the hair. Ring lights, torches and LED lighting were just a few sources of lighting that were used to help to create a neon like effect on the hair colour and evoke a multi-sensory experience for those looking at the finished hair imagery.

Below, the British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional three-times winner and current Southern Hairdresser of the Year, shares with us some behind the scenes shots of the collection and videos that showcase the images coming to life.

Discussing how he made the connection between hair colour and UV, Baek said:

“I was first captivated by the scene of glowing plants in the film Avatar, which sparked my fascination with bringing such fantastical elements into reality. This became my driving motivation. 

One day, while working at our salon, a client purchased Manic Panic hair colour labeled "UV Glow." Intrigued, I delved into research to understand its mechanism. I discovered that it illuminated under UV light, producing vibrant colors. And so began my journey." 

He continued: "I explored various brands of UV-activated colors, experimenting with different shades to understand their glow intensity and color variations. After six months of rigorous testing, I compiled my own UV color chart. Collaborating with photographers, I conducted numerous test shoots in professional UV studio settings to understand how these colors interacted with light.

My fascination deepened when I watched David Attenborough's documentary, Blue Planet, featuring bioluminescent creatures. Inspired, I embarked on my first UV collection, aiming to recreate their mesmerizing glow.

In my recent collection, MR (Mixed Reality), I address the burgeoning presence of AI in our lives. While many people express concerns about this, it's a reality we must embrace. I sought to create something that harnesses the benefits of AI.

To achieve this, I utilised an AI generator to produce new images based on my previous works. Drawing inspiration from these new images, I crafted my own interpretations.

In pursuit of a seamless fusion of reality and imagination, I employed a blend of natural light and UV. This emphasis on illuminating the hair area symbolises the concept of Mixed Reality, where the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds blur."

Check out Seung Ki Baek's winning collection here.

Enter the British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional - deadline is 5pm on Friday 28 June 2024.

We can’t wait to see what’s next when it comes to Baek’s future collections...

Charlotte Grant-West

Charlotte Grant-West

Published 12th Mar 2024

Charlotte oversees the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. With over a decade of experience as a journalist, Charlotte was formerly Editor of Modern Barber and HJ Men, Social Editor at Netmums and Features Writer at Boots Health & Beauty magazine. She loves any products that make her hair bigger and more voluminous, and loves a behind-the-scenes peek at anything hair-related – whether it's a factory tour, BTS on a shoot or backstage at fashion week.

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