Aesop is not only renowned for its luxe skincare products, but for the stunning spaces in which it sells them. Designed by some of the architecture industry’s biggest names, from Superkül to Snøhetta, each store offers a unique brand experience that reflects its context. Rising Toronto firm Odami now has two locations under its belt. The first, Aesop Yorkville, is an ode to the Toronto neighbourhood’s Victorian homes, lined with balustrades painted in rich burgundy. For its second Aesop outpost, which opened late last year in L.A.’s Palisades Village, the studio embraced the same hyper-local approach — and the opposite side of the colour wheel.
Echoing its verdant natural surroundings, the store’s focal point is a lush interior garden bathed in natural light from the skylight above. Paying homage to the area’s vernacular architecture, much of which is perched on a landscape of ridges and valleys, a clean-lined bench, product displays, and a consultation sink wrap around the garden, enveloped by greenery. “By placing the sink right up against the garden, and by actually placing a product display shelf right inside it, we were able to heighten the sensorial experience of using and browsing the products,” explains architect and co-founder of Odami, Aránzazu González Bernardo.
Local architect Ray Kappe’s iconic modernist residence served as a key reference for Odami. “Both its atmosphere and overall tectonic strategy inspired the store,” says González Bernardo. “The majority of the house is composed of a series of redwood planes that hover above the terrain at various levels, supported by six concrete shafts. The result is a complete dissolution of the boundaries between the built and natural environments; the spaces feel like they’re delicately nestled or floating amongst the foliage.”
Odami used similar strategies to translate these qualities into the retail space. The display elements, comprised of long horizontal planes, are carefully balanced. At the rear of the store, a large butcher block counter and a display case clad in reclaimed wood boast a massive quality, while razor-thin stainless-steel shelving along the rightmost wall virtually disappears, creating the illusion that the rows of Aesop bottles are levitating.
The entire store is rendered in muted sage green, in a variety of tones and textures. Microcement walls, ceilings and floors evoke a tactile, earthy quality, while a shimmering velvet curtain brings in an element of softness — and hides back-of-house functions such as inventory storage and a utility room. Each of these textures heightens the play of light and shadow throughout the interior. Blending biophilia, rich textures, and soothing colour, the interior offers the perfect space for self-care.