In the world of skincare and fragrance, there has, in recent years, been a return to the apothecaries of yore. A wave of products packaged in metal tubes and glass bottles have surged to the top of the beauty world and landed in countless dopp kits and cosmetic bags. These products tend to have thicker viscosities, herbal fragrances, and are composed of naturally-inspired ingredients. Hailing from Australia, Aesop emerged as a cultivator of the contemporary apothecary with a lineup of products, including the Parsley Seed Cleansing Masque and Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream, which have grabbed the attention of consumers worldwide. The company is also known for its signature packaging, fit for the finest of medicine cabinets. Aesop recently opened a store in Gastown, the brand’s first stand-alone shop in Western Canada.
Aesop bypasses the cookie-cutter aesthetic that many chain stores adhere to; instead, each location feels unique and separate from the rest. When constructing the Gastown spot, Aesop’s in-house design team collaborated with local producers to source materials that would reflect the individuality of the area. “We took our inspiration from the history of the neighborhood—in particular the role of the logging industry in the making of Vancouver, beginning with the Hastings sawmill,” says Stuart Millar, Aesop general manager and president Americas. “We sourced Douglas fir as the primary material for the store, and used bisected tiles to form a mosaic surface that shrouds wall, ceiling, and floor.”
These bisected tiles mirror the pre-existing pattern and texture of Gastown, helping make the store feel like it has already been part of the neighbourhood for a number of years. “The geometry and texture of the tiles is a nod to Gastown’s streetscape—its cobblestones and its brick walls,” says Millar. “We always seek to weave ourselves into the fabric of the street. At Aesop Gastown, there is a palpable continuity between interior and exterior, between past and present.” The shop is noticeably smaller than many others in the area, giving it a cozy atmosphere with warm-toned woods, as bottles and metal tubes line the shelves like books in a library.