Urban Zen

Words by Ann Cathrin Andersen
Photography and illustrations courtesy of Aesop

In January Aesop launched a significant expression of their design approach, conceiving a collaboration with Paris based Paulin, Paulin, Paulin to transform their rue Saint-Honoré office into a space temporarily housing Aesop Facial Appointments for the first time in Paris.

The collaboration began when Paulin, son of iconic French designer Pierre Paulin, passed by the the Condorcet store in Paris’ 9th arrondissement and saw a vintage armchair created by his father in the window. Intrigued to see such attention to design in a cosmetics store, he contacted Aesop and so the story unfolded. 

Aesop is famous for their design approach, all their stores exudes a knowledge about design and architecture, and how surroundings affect our minds and health.

«Design is the result of meticulous care for detail, well-considered material and absence of complexity. The body has an infinite perspective of emotions and its surrounded space should only suggest a particular and specific therapy for the senses,» says Jean-Philippe Bonnefoi, design coordinator at Aesop, when I ask whether design and architecture impacts our minds and how we experience things.

The first thing that meet you when you enter the new space are the scents and the soft sensation under your feet. It’s like walking on moss, surrounded by natural oils and mellow sunshine. A screen made from panes of wax covers the windows and diffuses the daylight — immediately sweeping you away from the busy and bustling Rue Saint-Honoré.

«We wanted a space for Aesop that makes you forget the passing of time, and as such, it required timeless furniture,» says Benjamin Paulin.

The interior was chosen first on the criteria of functionality. The idea was not to create a Paulin showroom, but to use a careful selection of furniture to create a specific atmosphere and make the treatment session interesting for the customer. The architects selected a mix of vintage and new pieces, including the Anda chair, Mushroom stool and pedestal tables designed for Ligne Roset. The walls, the cushions and the furniture are all in different shades of beige, creating a feeling of a typical wellness center, but with a modern and fresh touch. 

«A lot of architecture makes you feel inferior and trivial. We wanted you to feel comfortable,» says Paulin. «To create something beautiful and strange, like you’re in another dimension, but still relaxed.»

The space itself is divided into three zones; an entrance where you leave the world behind, a middle room for discussing and booking treatments, and the third and final room where the treatment takes place. And with only one customer booked to use the space at a time, it makes for a truly intimate experience.