We explore the design secrets that make Aesop's Richmond store a haven for beauty aficionados and interior addicts alike
Aesop's flagship Richmond store is a treasure trove of delights; not only does it offer (very well displayed) Aesop products in abundance but it also operates as amazing interior inspiration alongside offering a dinner club in collaboration with AnOther favourite Towpath. Australian founder and CEO Michael O'Keefe explained to us that "all the people that work with this company have an interest, sometimes a passion, sometimes an obsession with design" – and it shows: from carefully-considered visual merchandising to the most aspirational mohair blankets, every element of the store is worth admiring.
Inhabiting a Georgian building once home to a children's bookstore (Lion and the Unicorn, which played host to guest authors from Roald Dahl to J.K.Rowling until it closed in 2013), the building is a prime example of pared-back chic. Minimal yet warm, the interior design plays up to the space's innate townhouse charm and is thus one of the most welcoming retail spaces around – as well as the ideal flagship for a brand renowned for exceptional design paired with brilliant products. Here, we look at the lessons that we can learn from the store, wonderfully documented by Maxyme G. Delisle.
1. Location, Location, Location
One of the key features of Aesop stores is that they engage with the narrative of the area that they inhabit – for example, their new Lamb's Conduit Street store incorporates a magical water display constructed by architects JamesPlumb to reference the street's history (in 1577, William Lamb founded a conduit there to allow a fresh supply of water for residents). The Richmond store is set away from the high street to preserve an aura of serenity, and sits just next to the much-adored green which is frequently home to local cricketing events and picnics.
2. Lighting is key
Whether the vintage copper lamps, bulbous glass fixtures or just well-positioned blinds and curtains allowing for optimum streaming of natural light, the presence of light is a key feature of the space. By illuminating textures and key features, it gently warms the space while still letting it feel cosy: bright enough to feel modern and refreshing, but with plenty of shady corners where you want to curl up with a book. Carefully-positioned light sources ensure that shadows fall beautifully throughout the house, becoming decorative elements in the minimalist environment with a precisely-honed colour palette of neutrals acting as the canvas.
3. Embrace and maximise original features
"When we started, we had collected a lot of heritage images, and visited other buildings in the area from the same period and places like Petersham Nurseries", explained Thomas Buisson, Aesop's European General Manager – and the refinement and enhancement of period features is definitely a major component of the store. With peeling plaster, stripped-back wooden floors and original Georgian fireplaces, the place feels homely rather than conforming to the sterility often present within beauty retail spaces. The appointment of a particularly wonderful builder played a big role in the refinement and enhancement of original elements of the house – "with him, everything was possible!" explained Thomas.
4. Make your bathroom a sanctuary
According to Anothermag.com editor Laura Bradley, "a chair in a bathroom is the ultimate luxury." We are pretty sure that this is a universal truth, and one proven by the atmosphere of the top floor bathroom at Aesop Richmond. Not only is the bathroom stacked with Aesop soaps and lotions, but every one of the accessories – from the toilet-roll holder to the towel hooks – fits perfectly. It can be difficult to unite a vintage aesthetic with the cleanliness one would want in a bathroom but, through a few well-chosen pieces and all-white wood panelling, the space is simultaneously fresh and inviting. To be honest, you can't go wrong with a giant (and carefully arranged) stack of Resolute Aromatique body balms in the corner: the tube is the perfect shade of teal and the rich, spicy fragrance earthy but clean.
5. Plants, everywhere
Although decoration is sparse within the house, reserved for the well-grouped antique picture frames and glass beakers filled with necessities, greenery abounds. Tendrils of ivy grow through the shelving and encircle jars of products, potted plants sit atop fireplaces and windowsills – and they are all united by their slightly wild British countryside aesthetic rather than carefully pruned into perfection. The Aesop customer is definitely the sort of person who knows how to keep their houseplants alive: the ultimate aspiration.
Aesop Richmond is located at 19 King Street, TW9 1ND.