The last time I was in an Aesop store, I felt a sudden onset of calm that I'm still trying to pinpoint. It could have been the vetiver in the air, or the sensation of washing my hands in a great porcelain basin, or the hand soap itself of "petitgrain exfoliant." The Australian apothecary line was founded in Melbourne in 1987 and ever since has advocated the use of its formulations as "part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature." There's that calm feeling again.
To drive home the Aesop ethos, each store—across 11 countries—has a site-specific design set up for browsing and lingering. And our favorite element in just about every location is the prominent wash basin. Here are 19 of the most memorable.
Above: Designed in collaboration with Melbourne architect Rodney Eggleston of March Studio, the North Melbourne store is housed in a former Victorian manor. Eggleston preserved the copper-framed windows and trio of Venetian fountains with brass garden faucets.
Above: The store in Balmain, a suburb just west of Sydney, was created in collaboration with furniture and lighting designer Henry Wilson, who exposed the raw sandstone walls. The white industrial shelves and sink are made of Australian woods and powder-coated metal.
Above: Aesop's San Francisco store features reclaimed timber box shelving and was designed by NADAAA.
Above: Aesop's Chelsea location in New York City has a trough sink and walls collaged with back issues of The Paris Review, the shop's neighbor on Ninth Street.
Above: The Nolita location in New York City was designed by Jeremy Barbour of Tacklebox Architecture. Barbour used the New York Times as a building material—2,800 copies of the newspaper were cut into 400,000 strips and then stacked and bound, and offset by oak detailing. The store is equipped with a deep farmhouse sink for washing hands.
Above: The B Is for Brooklyn location, inside the Invisible Dog Art Center, in South Brooklyn has a rotating visual art installation and simple shelving. Lacking plumbing in the center of the store, the long, antique wash basin is equipped with its own water and refuse supply.
Above: The West End store in Portland, Oregon, was designed in collaboration with John Randolph, who sourced shou-sugi-ban-treated Douglas fir and a large antique wash basin that he set up in the center of the store. Intrigued? See our post on Shou Sugi Ban as Siding and Flooring.
Above: Ilse Crawford of Studioilse designed Aesop's Mayfair store in London, located in a Victorian mansion. Crawford restored the interior, adding a wash of dark mint green, modern lighting, and industrial shelving. The large round wash basin is a restored antique as well.
Above: In London, the Marylebone location was a maternity clothing store before Paris architects Studio KO stripped the interior, spray-painting the brick a reddish putty color. The wash basin is made of cast concrete and has an unfinished oak board as a sink caddie.
Above: Designed by Paris firm Cigue, the Marais store in Paris has walls of polished concrete with a central island of polished marble. The large wash basin was made from a plumbing lid, a former piece of Paris infrastructure.
Above: The Aesop Montmartre store, also by Cigue, features a sink of powder-coated black sheet steel set into an oak countertop. For more on the architects, see our post A Nonconformist Kitchen in Paris.
Above: The work of Italian firm Dimore Studio, the Saint-Sulpice store in Paris has a large brass vanity that stretches across one side of the room, a black-and-white marble floor, vintage mirrors, and pink velvet walls. See more by the architects in our posts Ancient Meets Modern in a Milan Apartment and Luxury Redux at the Grand Hotel in Milan.
Above: With its floor-to-ceiling concrete tiles in the style of Gerhard Richter, the Mitte store in Berlin, by architects Weiss-heiten Design, is an homage to the city's Bauhaus. The sink was salvaged from a 1950s farm and stands in contrast to the otherwise modern interior.
Above: The Karlspassage store in Stuttgart was designed by Einszu33 in a palette of charcoal gray. The central sinks are Nero Assoluto black granite with faucets made from galvanized metal plumbing parts.
Above: Piping reappears in the copper faucets of the Aesop Hong Kong Elements store. The triangular wash basin sits in a wood-clad island in the center of the store.
Above: The Aesop Kyoto store was designed by Shinichiro Ogata of the Simplicity team who drew inspiration from Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s essay "In Praise of Shadows" and the vertical alignment of Japanese script, among other things. The island sink is made from copper plumbing.
Above: Designed by Torafu Architects, the Kawaramachi store, on Kawaramachi Street in Kyoto, is made of concrete and a porous stone called Ōya with accents of bright mint. The same green was used for the wash basins, which are paired with brass faucets.
Above: In Ginza, Tokyo, the Aesop store was designed by Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects, who kitted out the storefront in brick and concrete. The sink is inset in a brick countertop with a brass wash basin and taps. Photograph by Alessio Guarino via Arch Daily.
For more design-worthy shops to visit all over the world, have a look through our City Guides. And to see Aesop products featured on Remodelista, visit our Shop section and our post A Hong Kong Apothecary Made from Reclaimed Ship's Wood.
This post is an update; the original ran on August 8, 2014, as part of our Down Under issue.