Wooden Fables: Aesop Emporium, Melbourne by KTA and .PSLAB

Snapshot: Aesop stores worldwide are constantly offering reinventions and reinterpretations of the brand, and the latest installment in Melbourne is no exception.

Aesop was established in Melbourne almost 30 years ago, and this store marks a return to their source. Consistent with their fusion of high quality products and innovative design, the Emporium is focused, thorough and revolves around natural material, namely spotted gum timber. It also features sustainably sourced hardwood ply to create the illusion of being effectively inside a tree, with woodwork surrounding the entire space. 

KTA have undertaken projects ranging from architecture and interiors to landscape and urban design, which gives them the additional edge to create an entirely wooden space that still feels open and light, while providing great richness and depth. The lighting fixtures come .PSLAB who are based in Beirut, and who have work featured across Europe and the Middle East. This creative collaboration has resulted in gentle, warm spots with delicate black casing that cast light onto the wood below like owls' eyes peering down from high nighttime boughs. 

From the wide woodwork flanking the entrance, to the vast expanse of hardwood floors, to the ceiling-to-floor gum timber effects, to the furnishings, finishes and flourishes, every inch of this space is a deep, rich and warm wooden tone. As Aesop strive to source plant-based ingredients, this natural, earthy environment compliments the brand's ethos and overall aesthetic. There is a sense that these products are guarded by the wood encasing, and protected from the harsh unnatural world outside of this save heavenly haven. 

The ply features are perforated, allowing both natural and artificial light to flow through, and fall upon the woodland floor with shadow and forest affects, creating shadows that allude to a sunlit stream of flora. These screens are also doors which fold back during business hours to invite customers into the open space, while at night gently shuts out the outside world, maintaining an element of mysticism and secrecy within the Emporium. 

In the center of the space appears a clearing with freshwater pools and naturally occurring waterfalls. At least, almost. In a continuation of the rich wood paneling on the floor, there are two high tables in the center that dip into gently cascading sinks with high arching taps, allowing shop assistants to demonstrate the products for customers. This also adds the audio essence of flowing water, further adding to this esoteric atmosphere, and soothing sensations. 

The Emporium's warm, rich and delicately lit space creates the ideal soothing environment in which to touch base with nature, and carefully select the best natural products for you. 

Photography: Derek Swalwell