Aesop Pitt Street

Aesop Pitt Street

Architect
Snøhetta
Location
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Project Year
2019
Category
Shops

Showrooms
Stories By
Snøhetta

Aesop
© Benjamin Hosking

Aesop Pitt Street in Sydney

Snøhetta as Architects

Located in the heart of Sydney’s central business district, Snøhetta has designed Aesop’s largest store to date. In the middle of this busy cosmopolitan shopping area, along the pedestrianized section of Pitt Street, the design of Aesop’s store intends to slow down the pace of passersby, encourage browsing, and draw attention to the contrasting textures and materials of the surrounding buildings.


Aesop Pitt Street is a result of the spirit of Sydney infused in the ambience and mission of Aesop, which includes creating honest products to be sold in shops which reflect the context of their locations, communities and environments. The interior space of Aesop Pitt Street is tranquil and peaceful, leaving visitors with a feeling of serenity and reassurance. 


The design process began with understanding the relationships between the spirit of the coast and waterfront at Bondi Beach, and the vibrancy of the central business district. A monumental granite structure wraps the interior of the sandstone building, paying homage to Christo and Jeanne-Claude's 1968-9 Wrapped Coast, which rendered the sandstone cliffs of Little Bay a theatrical, lunar landscape. Aesop Sydney brings the greatness and tranquility of coastal cliffs to the bustling downtown environment.


Responding to the energy of the downtown area, the store’s entrance, clad in textured granite, is set back from the street and provides a moment to decompress and transition into the space, metaphorically bringing the coastal calm into the busy city center. The contrasting color and texture of the entrance, in contrast to the smooth sandstone features of the building, signals visitors to slow down, and create a moment of stillness upon entry, allowing space to think and relax. 

A robust and durable material palette of stone, brass metal and concrete, balances a sense of monumentality and intimacy. Inspired by the monolithic scale and texture of a stone quarry, the room appears to be composed of solid granite. Despite sandstone being the prevailing local geology, granite, an igneous rock known for its strength and durability, lines the pavements of Sydney’s central business district, where Aesop Sydney is located, which resembles a strong connection between Sydney and Aesop. 

Carved grooves in the stone create the divisions where metal shelves have been inserted, integrating shaves into the cladding. Polished metal detailing reflects the stone, creating an almost invisible line and highlighting the products displayed around the perimeter of the space.

The large metal block sinks boast a clean profile and displays the products in a central zone dedicated to cleansing and testing. The sinks and counters are industrial and sleek, even while their finish reflects the dark and cool stone. 

The Aesop Pitt Street store consists of several areas that cater to the needs of each individual customer. The communal sinks at the front allow for staff demonstrations and user-friendly testing of the products, whereas the private sinks deeper within the space allow for more contemplative product exploration, creating a sense of “home” away from home, and encouraging mindful selections. 

Towards the back of the store, a small amphitheater allows for a moment of repose and relaxation where visitors can choose to observe the environment or watch a short film displayed on an in-built screen on the wall.

Aesop Pitt Street is the eighth Aesop store designed by Snøhetta. Other stores include Aesop Prinsens Gate (Oslo), Aesop Homansbyen (Oslo), Aesop Grabenstraße (Düsseldorf), Aesop Fasanenstraße (Berlin), Aesop ION (Singapore), and Aesop Raffles City (Singapore), and Aesop Duke of York Square (London). 

AESOP STORE PITT STREET Sydney

Aesop as Client

An evolution

Designed with trusted collaborator Snøhetta, Aesop’s Pitt Street store celebrates the company’s passage to fruition over the last three decades, and will be a guiding light in the next stage of its voyage. A monumental granite structure wraps the interior of the sandstone building in reverence for Christo and Jeanne-Claude's 1968-9 Wrapped Coast, which rendered the sandstone cliffs of Little Bay a theatrical, lunar landscape. Aesop Sydney brings the magnitude and equanimity of coastal escarpments to the bustling downtown environment.


While sandstone is the prevailing local geology, granite, an igneous rock known for its strength and durability, lines the pavements of Sydney’s central business district, where Aesop Sydney is located. The store’s façade holds the contrasting tones of sandstone and granite in tender dialogue. Hewn by a local stonemason, the granite’s texture is poised between the natural and the ordered. Horizontal ridges, scored by a bridge-saw, introduce a consistency of pattern while the stone’s hand-chiseled face expresses its fault-lines and idiosyncrasies.


Visitors decompress across the set-back threshold, which unfolds into a vast granite chamber. An immense stainless steel counter with a proliferation of basins welcomes exploration of Aesop’s skin, hair, and body care products, distinguished by botanical and laboratory-generated ingredients of the highest quality. At the heart of the store, stone steps rise into an amphitheatre where visitors might gaze upon a film, or simply pause and reflect. Three staggered sinks allow for more private and extensive encounters with Aesop’s skin care philosophy, formulations, and application techniques, evoking the comfort of one’s own home while guided by knowledgeable and dexterous consultants.


This store is true to the spirit that’s present in all Aesop stores. It feels like an evolution. The question is: how can a monumental space give a feeling of comfort and intimacy? Imagine you’re in a cathedral or a vast valley. Yes, there’s a feeling of greatness, but there’s also a sense of smallness, of introspection, of perspective. This contradiction is where our design sits. - Peter Girgis, Snøhetta

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