28 AESOP’S FABLES

As beauty brand Aesop cel­e­brates its 30th an­niver­sary, we take a closer look at its in­spi­ra­tional high street shops – ev­ery one a de­sign des­ti­na­tion

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Not many brands have be­come as suc­cess­ful as Aesop with­out also be­com­ing ubiq­ui­tous. That the Aus­tralian com­pany has re­tained its al­lure is largely down to one thing: its ap­proach to store de­sign. Where oth­ers re­pro­duce the same tem­plate over and over again, ev­ery Aesop store is dif­fer­ent. Though the name is a fa­mil­iar pres­ence on Lon­don’s high streets – it will open its 19th UK branch, in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square, this Septem­ber – it is never a pre­dictable one.

De­tails such as the green Moroc­can tiles in Aesop’s Covent Gar­den store ( be­low) of­fer in­spi­ra­tion for real-life homes

This year is Aesop’s 30th an­niver­sary, but the brand was un­con­ven­tional from the start. The first stand-alone store, opened in 2003 in St Kilda, Mel­bourne, was housed in a tun­nel-like ramp lead­ing to an un­der­ground car park. Later open­ings were sim­i­larly ex­per­i­men­tal: the ceil­ing of the Ade­laide bou­tique (above right), for in­stance, is dec­o­rated with over 7,000 am­ber glass bot­tles – the same ma­te­rial used for Aesop’s prod­ucts. ‘We have al­ways ac­knowl­edged the ef­fect good de­sign has, and en­deav­our to bring some­thing worth­while to ev­ery space,’ says cre­ative di­rec­tor Mar­sha Mered­ith.

Many stores, such as the one over­seen by in­te­rior de­signer Ilse Craw­ford in May­fair in 2008, take their cue from homes in an ef­fort to make peo­ple feel at ease. Rest­ful jade green walls and par­quet floors fea­tured in Craw­ford’s de­sign (top left), while de­tails such as the green Moroc­can tiles in the Covent Gar­den store (right) and the red brick and cop­per sinks in the Ginza, Tokyo branch of­fer in­spi­ra­tion for real-life homes. It’s no sur­prise, then, that Aesop has a web­site ded­i­cated to its re­tail projects – tax­on­o­my­ofde­sign.com. Here’s to many more years of stylish stores (aesop.com).

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