Australia's Coolest Export? by

Issue 22 · Australia and Beyond · May 31, 2012

Australia's Coolest Export?

Issue 22 · Australia and Beyond · May 31, 2012

We're not sure how an Australian company swept the skincare world with its amber bottles, simple graphic labels, and botanical based ingredients like parsley seed, rose geranium and camellia nut, all made in Australia but we're chalking it up to good design, great products, and compelling stores.

The man behind it all, Dennis Paphitis, grew up in Melbourne and hails from a family of barbers and hairdressers. Shunning his parents' desire for him to take on a more starchy profession (think lawyer), he worked as a hair stylist and started creating hair products. In 1987, he launched Aesop, his own line of plant-based hair products; the collection eventually expanded to include skin and body care. He likes to describe his products as "Muji-meets-Hermes," in short, both functional and luxurious. I first discovered Aesop products in the bathroom of a hotel several years ago; ironically, I no longer recall the hotel, but the products have been a favorite every since.

Here is a roundup of our favorite Aesop stores in Australia. To peruse their offerings, go to Aesop.

Photography via Aesop, except where noted.

Above: Aesop stores are creative works unto themselves with no two stores looking alike. The design tends to rely on simple materials such as the wood and stone shown here at the Bondi Beach Store. Opened in May 2011 the store was designed by Melbourne architect Zenta Tanaka.

Above: Paphitis is a big proponent of letting the products speak for itself, preferring sampling over other forms of advertising. Here products are displayed in a box attached to the window.

Above: The Armadale store designed in collaboration with Ryan Russell. 'We believe unequivocally that good design can improve your life' is a quote from the company's statement on design. Photograph via Yatzer.

Above: Aesop’s Flinders Lane store opened in 2007. Paphitis worked with March Studio of Melbourne (one of several collaborations with them) to create a store made completely out of cardboard.

Above; Cardboard boxes in the Flinders Lane store.

Above: A store in North Melbourne with a gentleman's club vibe.



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