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01.05.2012
Open> Boutique
Jeremy Barbour and Tacklebox use stacked newspaper and felt to create Aesop's New York outposts.
Exterior view of Aesop's University Place location.
Juliana Sohn / Aesop

Aesop
60 University Place
New York
Tel: 877.602.3767
Designer: Jeremy Barbour, Tacklebox

The Australian skincare brand Aesop, named after the famed Greek storyteller, wanted its long-awaited North American debut to be both discrete yet pervasive—akin to the brand’s ever-expanding but modestly packaged lineup of apothecary-inspired products. A total of four new retail locations will be open New York by early 2012, three of which were designed by New York–based architect Jeremy Barbour. A kiosk that opened in Grand Central Terminal in July was intended as a “teaser,” and in the fall the brand launched two more boutiques, one in Nolita that opened in September and another just south of Union Square that opened in late November.

All three of Barbour’s projects are unmistakably inter-referential in design yet each one is also specific to its location. Aesop’s latest University Place location is “a freer sister” of its Nolita counterpart, according to Barbour. Both brick-and-mortar locations feature wooden horizontal shelving systems, but those at the latest store on University Place are flexible and even temporal, with units that can be added and subtracted according to need.

 
Horizontal shelving and felt walls at Aesop's University Place store surround a relcaimed sink from the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
 

Felt walls are intended to reference the soft finish of newspaper, an everyday material that plays a prominent role in the other New York locations, and a six-foot-long trough-style sink (salvaged from the historical Bethlehem Steel Corporation) sitting in the center of the space underscores the brand’s emphasis on customer sampling and interaction. The location came without existing plumbing or electrical infrastructure, allowing Barbour that much more freedom in his design decisions, such as the floor-to-ceiling shelves that required a sixteenth-of-an-inch precision.
 

Cindy Yewon Chun

 

   
2,800 reclaimed New York Times newspapers were formed into 10-inch by 20-inch Bricks covering the walls of Aesop's Nolita location (left, center) and more newspapers are stacked to form Aesop's Grand Central Station Kiosk.