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Biophilic travels: an intriguing cave-like retail space

in biophilic travels

An element that retail spaces often miss from a biophilic perspective is the sense of place, that close relationship between a space and its surroundings.

In this episode of Biophilic Travels, a store that crafts a sense of belonging to place while offering visitors an intriguing experience…

shaping a sense of place

Aesop North Bridge is located in Chicago. Despite its urban position, this retail environment embodies a sense of place that connects the space to local nature.

Inspired by features of the natural surroundings, the design references a frosted scenery, paying homage to the cold winters that characterize the area. Cold metal, smooth concrete, and a rough stone-like finish (that is in fact sprayed recycled paper fibre) create a glacial monochrome ambiance while wall-washer lighting paints interesting light and shadow effects. Real stone blocks punctuate the space, laying casually as they would in a natural environment.

The overall minimal and monochrome environment recalls the starkness of ice by means of texture and surface temperatures, shaping a sense of place through materials.

View of the products standing out againsts the monochrome gray wall.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo
Close-up view of the washbasin area at the back of the store.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo
View of the store counter behind the curved wall.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo

an intriguing experience

Upon entering, visitors are transported into a fascinating dimension that immediately grabs attention thanks to the richly textured walls as well as a majestic ceiling height that feels breathtaking and somehow humbling. Curved walls guide movement through shape, inviting guests to explore the space.

As a whole, an intentional combination of materials, shapes, and space creates a cave-like ambiance that inspires an adventurous experience of space.

View of store entrance.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo
View of the curved wall leading guests to explore the space.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo
View of the washbasin area, hidden behind curved walls.
Credit: Aesop – Ph: Rafael Gamo

Through sensory richness, local identity, and an intriguing atmosphere, this space crafts a memorable and compelling experience, a nourishing urban adventure.

Biophilic design resources by anooi:
A Biophilic YearApplying Biophilic DesignVisual Library of Biophilic Design