MUNICH – In this skincare shop, austerity and forthrightness of display become elegant; contrasts, a virtue; and empty space, intimate. Local design studio einszu33 soberly mixed materials and untamed textures to generate a simultaneous feeling of balance and tension: a rough concrete ceiling and screed floor find their counterpoint in polished, pale surfaces, brass floor inlays and fixtures, upholstered wooden cabinets and a textile wall in a blushing hue.
Anchoring the 110-sqm shop, a massive 7-m-wide concrete point-of-service island topped with Italian Pergamena marble and a recessed concrete washbasin becomes the heart of the store. Around this symbol of the timeless call to ablutions, clerk and client consult. Behind it, signature amber apothecary bottles line the marble slabs of barely-there metal shelving that rises on thin legs from floor to ceiling.
The design has its origins in a quotation from German composer Gustav Mahler: ‘Tradition ist die Bewahrung des Feuers und nicht die Anbetung der Asche’ (translation: ‘tradition is not to worship the ashes, but to pass on the flame’). In the historically fraught centre of Munich, not far from a memorial of the city’s Nazi past, the challenge was to build a space of profound well-being. The solution: a synthesis of contrasts that radiates calm. Here, for a moment, the ashes of at least some of the fires outside can be washed away.