10 May 2021 • Retail
F.O.G. Architecture taps into relaxation to push the boundary of mall retailing
School of Architecture, Tsinghua University and One Lighting Associates (Beijing)
Furniture and Installation Designers
Youlong Jinsheng Decoration Ltd.
The designers experimented with aesthetic opposites to build a ‘modern cave’ for aromatherapy brand ToSummer.
‘Warmth and calmness, coarseness and delicacy, hardness and softness, control and intuition, natural and artificial’: these are the juxtapositions that the team at F.O.G. Architecture explains drive the concept of ToSummer’s first physical shop, in Beijing. The artificial-stone-clad store comprises three key spaces: a living-room-style entry in the front, an exhibition and retail area in the middle and a place for independent art installations, before one reaches the cashier in the back. Curving white walls, an array of light programming – including spotlights, mirror lights and light belts – and mirrored metal guide the visual journey. The space’s organic forms, which count exclusive furniture by Max Lamb among them, interact harmoniously with its sharp, linear features. All in all, the encompassing design helps the aromatherapy products to fully draw consumers in through the senses.
This isn’t the kind of space that you’d ever expect out of a mall, and that’s the beauty of it – it’s a surprising sanctuary in what can often be a quite stressful environment; a place you can set down your bags and say ‘ahh’ for a moment. Embedding two relaxing spatial typologies in the project – the living room and art gallery – allowed the designers to establish a sense of intimacy in the store right from the get-go. What could be more fitting for an aromatherapy brand? It’s easy to imagine that, after dealing with too many failed try-ons and escalator rides, this would be a hard place to leave. And achieving that is undoubtedly the goal of any retailer.