Aesop has built a reputation not just for the quality of its products but the design of its stores, each highlighting local materials and culture. On the heels of a successful collaboration for a Paris boutique, Aesop fittingly selected Milan-based Dimore Studio to design another one, in the designers’ home city, their office walking distance from the shop’s Corso Magenta address in the historic center.
“We found inspiration in the butler pantries of the old bourgeois homes of Milan, particularly Piero Portaluppi’s Villa Necchi,” explains Britt Moran, who, along with Emiliano Salci founded Dimore in 2003. They have since completed a number of high-end retail and hospitality projects in the fashion capital and elsewhere. “Aesop’s packaging has that apothecary feel, so we wanted to do something more domestic—a mix of sterile and cozy.” Two hovering 4-foot-diameter brassrimmed pendants with patterned fiberglass shades illuminate the 375-square-foot space like surgery lights, while adding a decorative touch. Midcentury chairs, freshly upholstered in pink velvet, define a small seating area, and vintage globes of varying sizes top display cases at the front of the store to add height and shape to the boxy elements.
The design of those cases—methodically organized and meticulously detailed to adhere to Aesop’s stringent presentation specifications—is the star of the show. Dimore tapped local artisans to craft the pastel-colored units. According to Moran, “It’s in our DNA to experiment with color.” In a nod to the old shops of Milan, many still lining this neighborhood’s streets, dark wood and rich draperies frame the arched storefront windows, with just a small neon sign calling attention to the dramatic interior beyond.