The concept of the modern single-brand beauty store is redefined in the newest design project from Neri & Hu for leading Korean skincare brand Sulwhasoo.
It comes as no surprise that Seoul’s beauty industry is investing heavily in creating flagship design statements – after all, this is a country where a ten-step morning face cleansing and moisturising ritual is considered the norm.
Sulwhasoo, however, sets a new design benchmark for the capital’s luxe retail scene with its first standalone store, combining an extensive array of skincare and beauty products with two separate spas and distinctive zones dedicated to the brand's heritage, VIP customers and a programme of cultural experiences.
The 1,949 sq m store, spread out over five stories on a prime corner site in the city’s luxury Gangnam retail neighbourhood, embraces the notion of the Oriental lantern with what the designers call ‘a continuous structure’ of slender brass filaments. The ethereal form extends from the street facade to within the structure to unify the interiors in a soft golden haze; while the lantern theme is reinforced with a series of large mirror volumes inserted into the wooden facade.
Throughout, the Shanghai-based design duo’s penchant for blending custom-design furnishings by leading brands such as Stellar Works, and iconic accent pieces by the likes of Carl Hansen, Arne Jacobsen and Fritz Hansen perfectly offset a muted natural palette that evolves from the moody brick wall and grey stone décor in the basement spa, through to noticeably lighter natural materials on the upper floors and rooftop terrace.
Meanwhile, the brand's products, including its signature 'Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream', are presented on understated timber counters topped with solid stone blocks, complete with custom-design hand mirrors.
To cap things off, retreat to the gift zone for a cup of fragrant herbal tea while your new purchase is meticulously wrapped in an elegant Korean textile.
'The Sulwhasoo flagship store is a spatial journey leading one to a self-exploration of all dimensions of beauty, inside and out,' explain Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of the project. 'The building as a lantern illuminates metaphorically and literally, as a beacon of light for the city and as a symbol of excellence in beauty.'