Structured around a sanctified arrangement of nebulous curves and sparkling, niveous surfaces, Aesop Prinsensgate is a place that recalls the awe of nature and the spectacle of religious observance. Hunkered down in the 19th-century streetscape of one of Oslo’s celebrated artistic locales, the interior was conceived by renowned Norwegian multidisciplinary practice Snøhetta, who have emphasised some of the historic features discovered while peeling back the layers of time during construction works. The forms borrow from the hallowed dimensions and bulbous roofs of Eastern Orthodox churches, intended to mitigate the distance between earth and paradise. The overall approach brings the immersive, multi-sensory experience of the Aesop range to the foreground.
The series of ten domes positioned across the ceiling is a striking intervention. Fabricated from fibre-reinforced concrete, each piece consists of pre-cast wedges, which were assembled before installation. The matte gypsum plaster finish affects a light plasticity belying the weight of the material, while the curves offer acoustics and a disarming volume, amplified by the rear wall lined in mirrors. Concrete has also been used in the central joinery piece, which is read almost as the negative image of the domes with curved voids carved off the corners.
A smooth sink, suggestive of a baptismal font, is inlaid in this unit, adorned with brass taps and product trays that offset the icy palette while adding to a sense of the mystic.
In contrast to the irregularity of this piece, a second counter towards the back appears as a simple rectangular prism, and features a black vintage desk lamp.
White surfaces are applied onto different materials, assembling unity in diversity. Exposed brick walls have been whitewashed to retain their rough, organic texture. Similarly, the original 19th century Oxley-patterned tessellated floor tiles have been coated with a cloudy finish, which gently obfuscates while guarding the traces of the shapes beneath. Thin steel shelves are rendered almost invisible against the walls, providing delicate support for the product range, which appears to float against the surface. Aesop Prinsensgate is both majestic and ethereal, evoking a contemporary sense of sacred ritual that elevates the Aesop experience to divine heights