With an intriguing fusion of futuristic and classic design, the 108-square-meter Aesop Duke of York Square retail space became Snøhetta's first permanently built project in England when it opened in 2017.
Situated in Chelsea, London, the store's design is inspired by the contextual relevance of the location combined with an influence of futuristic elements. The result is an interior characterized by classic archetypes, a pale red color palette, and stainless steel elements.
Arches create hierarchy
An existing column is used as the starting point for the store's layout. From this centralized column, 12 arches stretch towards the perimeter walls. This series of arches is crucial in creating a sense of organizational hierarchy and establishing visual separators within the space. The arches are clad in a clay-based plaster with a subtle gradient color, ranging from a lighter base to a darker shade. Illumination from between the arches further emphasizes the gradient effect.
Expanding out from the centralized column, a sink in a circular shape establishes itself as the natural meeting point of the store. The sink, an integral part of all Aesop's stores, appears as a hovering water mirror reflecting the light and colors of the ceiling. Made from polished stainless steel and glass fiber, the sink becomes a focal element, simultaneously allowing for an optimized flow of people within the space.
Royal rose and stainless steel
The walls, ceiling, and arches are clad in a pink-pigmented clay-based plaster, giving the space a royal rose color. The clay plaster is delivered by Clayworks and sourced from the southwest counties of England. This simple color palette is contrasted by the extensive use of steel in the other custom elements of the store.
The contrasts created by the rough surfaces of the walls against the soft, polished expression of the precise stainless-steel shapes, the play with color gradients, as well as the changes in light throughout the space all underline a sense of depth to the design. Combined with the traditional arches and futuristic elements like the sink, the design aims to trigger the customer's curiosity.
Aesop Duke of York Square was the seventh Aesop store designed by Snøhetta. Other stores designed by Snøhetta include Aesop Prinsens gate (Oslo), Aesop Homansbyen (Oslo), Aesop Grabenstraße (Düsseldorf), Aesop Fasanenstraße (Berlin), Aesop ION (Singapore), Aesop Pitt Street (Sydney) and Aesop Raffles City (Singapore).