For Aesop’s second Sao Paulo location, the Australian skincare brand’s founder Dennis Paphitis tapped none other than international design stars and Sao Paulo natives Fernando and Humberto Campana, who have created a store that perfectly blends the Aesop philosophy with traditional Paulista architecture.
Located on the bustling Rua Harmonia in the city’s bohemian Vila Madalena neighborhood, the latest addition to Aesop’s staggering list of global outposts follows hot on the heels of the brand’s first South American opening – a boutique on Sao Paulo’s Rua Oscar Freire designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Metro Associated Architects - which opened last year.
Set back from the street, the 112 sq m store is entered via a courtyard through an aluminium gate that flips open to create a roof during the day. Here, timber benches, a washbasin and a pergola with climbing plants create a relaxing social space where customers are encouraged to sit and stay a while.
Cobogó bricks take centre stage at Aesop's second Sao Paulo outpost. Courtesy of Aesop and Estudio Campana. Photography: Pedro Kok
‘[Aesop’s] only request was their desire to include strong elements connected to the Brazilian culture in the store,’ says Humberto Campana of the design brief. ‘So we wanted to combine traditional characteristics of Paulista architecture with the Australian cosmetics brand’s symbols and values to create a space that goes beyond the traditional commercial function of a shop and offer the neighbourhood a meeting point.’
Sitting alongside a material palette of sisal fibre, concrete and plywood, the humble cobogó brick – a staple of Brazilian architecture – takes centre stage in the Campana’s design, forming not only the fixtures and furniture but the flooring, ceiling and an entire wall that stretches from the exterior courtyard right through into the interior. The bricks, which are typically used to provide ventilation and shade inside Brazilian homes, are characterised by their decorative perforated patterns, which are used here en masse to stunning effect.
‘We developed a special floor made of cobogó brick filled with concrete; a fully experimental work that resulted in a beautiful pattern,’ explains Humberto. ‘We employed sisal fiber as a natural background that complements the strong graphic effect created by the cobogó brick. We covered the walls with this fiber to use it as an acoustic element that also brings a zen atmosphere to the place. Live jasmine, an original component of Aesop fragrances, became the counterpoint to the earthy color palette, offering a natural colour contrast and a unique scent to the store.’