Bold as brass: Neri & Hu design an impactful Sulwhasoo flagship

Brass rod
Neri & Hu’s radical transformation of a five-storey building in Gangnam, Seoul, for beauty brand Sulwhasoo was inspired by the notion of the lantern
(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)

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.'


Neri & Hu aspired to create a space that appealed to all senses and captured the customer immediately as they approached the building, creating an experience which would unfold during the journey inside the store

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)


Moving through the building, the material palette becomes lighter and more open, inviting visitors to interact with the space

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)

wooden counters

Wide timber floor boards occasionally rise up to form wooden counters with inserted solid stone blocks, on top of which Sulwhasoo’s products are displayed as precious objects

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)

wooden separé

One of the many rooms in the Sulwhasoo concept store hidden behind a delicate wooden separé

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)

Wooden chair

Mirror volumes are inserted into the wooden landscape to reflect and amplify the seemingly endless structure

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)

Brass structure

A continuous brass structure ties the whole store together, guiding customers while they explore the full extent of the space

(Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute)


For more information, visit the Neri & Hu website


650, Sinsadong