Aesop Duke of York Square

A retail space in London is Snøhetta’s first permanent project in the UK


Paola Pansini

Snøhetta, the Oslo-based architect of the Norwegian National Opera and the extension to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, has completed its first ‘permanent’ project in the UK – a 108-square-metre retail space for Australian skincare brand Aesop, located at Duke of York Square in Chelsea, London.


An existing column provided the starting point for the store’s layout. From it, 12 arches extend towards the perimeter walls, establishing an organisational hierarchy for the space. The arches are finished in a clay-based plaster with a subtle gradient colour, ranging from a lighter base to a darker shade.

The column is ringed by a circular sink unit in stainless steel and glass fibre, which “appears as a hovering water mirror reflecting the light and colours of the ceiling”, suggests the architect.


Like the arches, the walls and ceiling are finished in pigmented clay-based plaster. “The contrasts created by the rough surfaces of the walls against the soft, polished expression of the clear stainless-steel shapes, the play with colour gradients, as well as the changes in light throughout the space, all underline a sense of depth to the design”, says the architect. “Combined with the traditional arches and futuristic elements such as the sink, the design aims to trigger customer’s sense of curiosity”.


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