Aesop Zhongxiao juxtaposes light and shade to mediate a set of diverse cultural inspirations. The design, a collaboration with Taiwanese firm CJ Studio, draws on Asian and European elements; the former include Japanese Baroque architecture, Chinese calligraphy and a line from a poem by photographer Chao-Tang Chang. The store is located on the Eastern section of Zhongxiao Road, a major thoroughfare embodying Taipei’s dynamic growth, traversing the city from the older West to the burgeoning modern districts of the East. The interior uses a predominantly monochromatic palette, with material suggestions of the city’s international influences – Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish – as well as its indigenous culture and revitalisation as a contemporary metropolis.
A dark terrazzo base dissects the space horizontally. The textured stone, left as a matte finish, runs across the floor and up the walls, forming joinery including an indoor planter box, free-standing point-of-sale counter and a large sink against the wall, with oxidised copper tapware. The heft of the solid material gives these pieces a monumental solidity; the sink is reminiscent of public school basins and the simple life that evolved in Taipei after the Second World War. Walls and shelving on the upper half of the interior are pure white, culminating in a slightly domed ceiling. Chinese calligraphy features on one wall, and native Taiwanese plants are found indoors and outside, where they climb a set of taut wires overlaid diagonally across the South-facing glass façade.
Aesop Zhongxiao navigates a broad spectrum of historical impressions, adeptly translating these moments into the poetics of space.