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Aesop Fashion Valley Store Facade

Textural concrete, practical detailing, and economical use of space

Aesop Fashion Valley inhabits a corner unit of the open-air retail centre, which first opened in 1969. Six years earlier, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies—in nearby La Jolla—opened its doors. The Institute was founded by Jonas Salk, who developed the Polio vaccine, and was designed by twentieth-century architect Louis Kahn.

Aesop’s in-house Design Department drew inspiration from the offices and open-plan laboratories of Kahn’s monumental work for the store’s design. The façade’s floor-to-ceiling glazing system is interrupted by a tilted, wood-formed concrete mass that suggests the Salk Institute’s diagonal tower protrusions and creates an intimate alcove within the store.

The store’s modest footprint is left unobstructed, with a single basin and counter volume complemented by discreet inset shelving. Kahn’s window louvres have been adapted into a canopy of powder-coated aluminium fins that moderate the lighting condition. Materials were chosen to evoke laboratory workstations: brushed stainless steel fixtures, taupe epoxy floor coating, and tempered bronze glass all contribute to an atmosphere of scientific objectivity.

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‘Let us unite on the safe and sure ground of fact and experiment, and we can never err.’

Frances Wright