Now in its twenty-fifth year, Aesop is making further inroads into the US market. Elana Castle interviews the design team about their recently opened flagship store in historic Back Bay, Boston
December 5th, 2012
The Australian botanical brand has had a presence in Barney’s for the past ten years and enjoyed a small, yet loyal group of followers. “The establishment of our own standalone stores has allowed us to express ourselves and control aspects of our brand that we are meticulous about; from lighting to aroma to architecture,” says Hayden Davies, Manager, Retail Training and Performance, Asia Pacific.
Whilst experimental in nature, Aesop stores are also known for their subtly context-appropriate interiors. In keeping with this tradition, the design for the Aesop Newbury store was inspired by the impressive architectural legacy of Boston, in particular Back Bay, an area in Newbury neighbourhood known for its well-preserved examples of 19th-century urban design.
Lead designer, William O’Brien, assistant professor of architecture at Boston’s MIT School of Architecture, has drawn on contextual historical and cultural clues creating a subtle and layered interior.
Antique white oak has been used extensively, “reflecting elements of the city’s tradition of millwork and craftsmanship”. The shelving takes this idea one step further, its composite of crown mouldings referencing traditional techniques in a contemporary context.
The shelves create a three dimensional perimeter around the key feature, a central testing area composed of a vintage porcelain laundry sink and exposed copper pipes which were outfitted to provide a skew on modern design and functionality.”
The design has also addressed the transition from the relative business of the street to the interior of the store. Upon entering, the clean and simple design engenders a feeling of calm. Architecturally, the profile of the delicate wrought iron and white oak balustrade twists on descent, announcing a gentle transition from the exterior bustle of Newbury Street to a calming and intimate environment that epitomises the spirit of Aesop.
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