Aesop Newbury Street
by William O’Brien Jr.

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Cornices are commonly used to decorate the junctions between walls and ceilings, but at the new Boston shop for skin and haircare brand Aesop, cornices cover the walls and form shelves for the brand's signature brown bottles.

Aesop Newbury Street by William O'Brien Jr.

Designed by architect and university professor William O’Brien Jr, the Aesop Newbury Street's interior was inspired by the nineteenth century ornamental architecture that originated in Paris and is common in the neighbourhood.

Aesop Newbury Street by William O'Brien Jr.

The oak mouldings are arranged in horizontal rows across each of the walls, as well as along the edges of the counter.

Aesop Newbury Street by William O'Brien Jr.

"The display shelves are formed through the accumulation of several different custom crown mouldings to produce an unexpected texture, one that defamiliarises the moulding and transforms its role from an architectural element that conventionally highlights edges to an element that produces a rich and varied surface texture," explained O’Brien Jr.

Aesop Newbury Street by William O'Brien Jr.

A staircase leads down into the store from the entrance and features a wrought iron balustrade with an oak handrail.

Like all of Aesop's stores, a wash basin is included, while reclaimed oak covers the floors.

Aesop regularly commissions designers to come up with unique concepts for its stores. Others we've featured recently include a London shop modelled on a medical laboratory and a Paris shop with iron nails for shelves.

See all our stories about Aesop »

Here's some more information from Aesop:


Aesop takes pleasure in announcing the opening of its first Boston signature store at 172 Newbury Street, Back Bay. Nineteenth-century planners fashioned this borough to be the ‘ornament of the city’, inspired and influenced by Hausmann’s redesign of Paris. The impressive architectural legacy is richly reinterpreted in the new store.

For the interior, William O’Brien Jr., Assistant Professor of Architecture at Boston’s MIT School of Architecture, recast several historic design elements deeply characteristic of the area. The space is dressed in a combination of new and reclaimed antique white oak – the former used for highly articulated display shelves, the latter for flooring. The ingeniously conceived shelving is formed through the accumulation of several different custom crown moldings – a shift from colonial ornamentation to contemporary functionality that defamiliarises and transforms, producing a rich and varied surface texture.

The entry stair presents a delicate balustrade of wrought iron bars topped by an ornamental white oak rail that effects a second form of defamiliarisation – here, as a tactile experience. As its profile twists on descent, the rail announces via the hand a gentle transition from the exterior bustle of Newbury Street to a calming and intimate environment that characterises the spirit of Aesop.

  • Greenish

    I like the way it seems to play with your depth perception at a distance. The finish on the flat side of the shelves is good too; that would have been easy to cop out on.