Aesop Collins Street
Nearby to the State Library’s expansive domed reading room, and set within the historic Georges Building, this new space for Aesop aligns the brand’s carefully considered ethos with the thoughtful craftsmanship of a by-gone era. Distinctly contemporary, yet drawing on its abundant neoclassical context, Aesop Collins St avoids pastiche or imitation via a considered abstraction of references. Solidity, verticality, sense of permanence and a stately timelessness all serve to fulfil the client’s brief for a space to slow down and take care.
The sculpted ceiling lends the store a dramatic street presence whilst also creating a respectful dialogue with the building’s façade. Once within, a continuous sequence of stained blackbutt joinery traces the space’s perimeter. Products are displayed along one side, echoing the structural repetition of a library shelf, whilst treatments are offered along the other side at timber vanities reminiscent of writing desks. The joinery is terminated by a sinuous dado line that doubles as a foundation for the up-lit curved ceiling above. Sheer curtains obscure views to the building’s internal commercial lobby whilst two monolithic travertine benches provide a social anchor at testing sinks and counter.
Whilst its joinery is finely curated to Aesop’s retail and merchandising requirements, Aesop Collins St has also proven to be an adaptable and dynamic venue. Celebrating Midsumma Festival 2023, shelves were cleared of stock as the space was transformed into an open, accessible, and complimentary Queer Library. Fully realising the space’s civic ambition, LGBTQIA+ literature was gifted and discussed as the space hosted talks and poetry readings. This adaptability reaffirms the space’s intent on a sustained lifespan by eschewing the often disposable and trend focused consumerism of high street retail.
Clare Cousins, Oliver Duff, Tom Goodchild, Yaseera Moosa
Peter Bennetts, Tasha Tylee