London – Oslo-based design office Snohetta partners with Aesop to create the skincare brand’s latest boutique in Duke of York Square, where Aesop’s nostalgic apothecary-style packaging finds a futuristic home amid stainless steel finishes and elliptical forms.
Snohetta takes an unexpected approach in renegotiating space around architectural supports by enhancing the visual prominence of the structural elements rather than disguising them. Matte mauve arches reach towards the central beam, collecting the volume of the store into a single focal point and creating physical cohesion throughout the interior, alongside the chromatic continuity.
The curved lines are repeated on the horizontal plane as well, with an oval-shaped sink wrapped around the base of the column. Pristine stainless steel covers the wash basins, reflecting the vertical features of the space and enhancing the strategic lighting. Niches between the vertical extensions are lit up to exaggerate the crevasses and highlight the colour gradient that darkens with increasing height. The subtle pink hue – achieved with clay-based plaster sourced locally in southwest England –is broadly applied to every vertical surface, while horizontal elements offer reflective and smooth complements.
The duality motif – in the matte and reflective surfaces, the red gradient and steel grey, the minimalist product packaging and extravagant spatial design – is intended to spark curiosity in visitors. Passersby are drawn in by the architectural elements which define an instinctive gathering space around the custom-fit sink – a staple of every Aesop store, and perhaps the only unifying element among its wide variety of intriguing store designs. Aesop Duke of York Square represents the brand’s latest evocation of singular design – informed by the context of the existing structure yet complemented by distinctive elements, all while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic.