SINGAPORE – For its fourth Aēsop store, Snøhetta was inspired by the former life of Singapore’s busy Orchard Road as a nutmeg plantation. The site’s horticultural history, coupled with an underground location, ‘spurred the concept of an upside-down forest’, says Thomas Fagernes, lead architect for the project. There was also a practical consideration, he adds: ‘We faced the challenge of overcoming the acoustic and visual impact from the mall and the surrounding stores. This saw us working with the ceiling and floor as acoustic absorbers and diffusers, and arranging the circulation to direct customers’ eyes away from the mall.’
The dark ceiling suggests the earth of the former plantation, while slender timber battens hang from the ceiling, curving through the space like tree trunks in a grove. Towards the edges of the space, shelves sprout from ceiling to floor, displaying Aēsop’s familiar glass bottles. Walls are painted in a shade of pink similar to that of mace, the other spice harvested from nutmeg fruit.
Warmly gleaming brass – which is used for displays, countertops and the sink, as well as for the alluring exterior of the store – evokes the nearby Aēsop Raffles City. ‘The brass is untreated and unpolished,’ says Fagernes. ‘Keeping it “alive” means that these elements in the store will slowly change and react to use, leaving the surfaces polished in some places and darkly patinated in others.’