© Trevor Mein


Aesop Stores

Taxonomy of Design

Style - 20.08.2019

Founded in 1987 by Dennis Paphitis as a product line in a small beauty salon in Melbourne, the company is present today in 50 countries with more than 220 stores. 

In the digital commerce era, the Australian skin, hair, and body care company Aesop pays special attention to in-store experience through art, architecture, and design. The brand’s philosophy – based on principles of quality, honesty, and sensibility – pervades each one of its spaces, but the projects are designed with the creative freedom needed to adapt to the character of the place. Fearing precisely that global expansion could turn the brand into a ‘soulless chain,’ founder Paphitis decided to work with local architects, young emerging teams in most cases, to design the stores. The result is an extraordinary collection of designs that pursue not only a visually attractive image but also calibrate factors such as lighting, scent, and sound to apparently imperceptible levels. To celebrate this process, Aesop launched the web Taxonomy of Design in 2015, where they inform about their products, materials, and strategies, and include the designers and architects of the spaces that embody the essence of the company. Situated in London’s Chelsea district, the Duke of York Square store, designed by Snøhetta, reinterprets traditional brick constructions with a central column that branches out in twelve clay-clad arches.

Starting out from a simple element like a block of rammed earth, Mexican architect Frida Escobedo creates a woven tapestry design to clad the main space of Aesop Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York.

Designed by Brooks + Scarpa, the Downtown Los Angeles store represents the beauty of simplicity with an envelope of cardboard tubes that create a warm, tactile, and neutral atmosphere.

Duke of York Square store (London) by Snøhetta / © Trevor Mein
Duke of York Square store (Londres) por Snøhetta / © Trevor Mein
Downtown Los Angeles store by Brooks + Scarpa / © Trevor Mein
Downtown Los Angeles store by Brooks + Scarpa / © Trevor Mein
Park Slope store in New York by Frida Escobedo / © Trevor Mein

Under an ethereal ceiling of intersecting domes, Oslo’s Prinsensgate store, also by Snøhetta, evokes the mystic qualities of the Norwegian landscape through tactile materiality and the organic neutrality of its furniture pieces and finishes.

Steel pipe caps the ame as those used  in the drains of Paris serve in the shop designed by Ciguë in Le Marais as small display shelves that seem to float on the uniform whitewashed walls. 

Honoring the ancient oman stone baths  that lend the English city its name, the new Aesop space in Bath, designed by James Plumb studio, inserts stone fragments in shelves, sinks, and countertops. 

Located in Miami’s financial district, the Brickell City Center store – by the Japanese Mlkk Studio – is inspired by typical elements from a day at the beach such as sun-damaged plastic tables and chairs. 

Prinsensgate store in Oslo by Snøhetta / © Trevor Mein
Le Marais store in Paris by Ciguë / © Trevor Mein
Aesop space in Bath by James Plumb / © Trevor Mein
Brickell City Center in Miami by Mlkk Studio / © Trevor Mein

The typical pastel hues of the facades in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver are transferred to the shop designed by the studio Naturehumaine, creating a contrast with the neutral gray of walls, floors, and ceilings.

The Knox signature store in Dallas, created by Aesop’s in-house design team, is an ode to the chromatic palette present in Wim Wender’s film Paris, Texas, which is screened on a loop in the space.

Salmon-pink paint, brass, and terrazzo compose the material palette of the Ngee Ann City boutique in Singapore, planned by the local firm Asylum as a reinterpretation of Peranakan architecture.

The brutalist finishes of the ceiling, the table, and floors are balanced with classic materials like velvet, brass, and marble in the Luitpoldblock shop in  unich, designed by the German team 1zu33.

Vancouver store by Naturehumaine /  © Trevor Mein
Knox store in Dallas by Aesop’s in-house design team / © Trevor Mein
Ngee Ann City boutique in Singapore by Asylum / © Trevor Mein
Vancouver store by Naturehumaine / © Trevor Mein
Luitpoldblock store in Munich by 1zu33 / © Trevor Mein

The floors, the shelves, and the counter at the store designed by March Studio on Gough Street in Hong Kong are built with translucid glass bricks that give the space an abstract and immaterial atmosphere.

Developed by the team of Aesop, the Bordeaux shop seeks recovering the original spirit of the space by restoring the moldings and maintaining the imperfections of the dais to emphasize natural weathering.

Designed by the Pritzker laureate Paulo Mendes da Rocha with Metro Arquitetos, the Oscar Freire shop in São Paulo fuses the dynamism and material strength that characterizes modernity in Brazil.

The monochrome purity of the different spaces and furniture elements emphasizes the aesthetic beauty of the Fitzroy store in Melbourne, the design of which was completed by the local studio of Clare Cousins.

Gough Street store in Hong Kong by March Studio / © Trevor Mein
Bordeaux shop by the team of Aesop / © Trevor Mein
Fitzroy store in Melbourne by Clare Cousins / © Trevor Mein
© Trevor Mein