Aesop Brighton

The new Aesop store in Brighton is a lesson in seaside bliss


The trend for wellness in interior design is growing. The bolstering effect of a wisely chosen colour can be as soul-feeding as being outside in the open air. Imagine a yellow front door intended to energise and uplift, or a chalky deep purple in a hallway, the painterly equivalent of a warm and welcoming hug… Colour is key to luring buyers and going green is one of the most enticing tips when it comes to inducing calm.

Transporting the serenity of the seaside to home decor, minus any nautical tropes, luxury plant-based Australian skin and haircare brand Aesop has gone head-to-toe verdigris for the palette of its new Brighton store. In the North Laine quarter, it’s the first for the coastal resort and one of only a few UK boutiques outside London. Conjuring up wistful memories of childhood holidays and a simpler life, the blue-green interior echoes the oxidised railings of the city’s seashore with its idyllic Victoriana, backdropped by cloudy skies and an opaque sea.


As with each of the distinctive global Aesop concept stores – often created in collaboration with outside designers, but here delivered by the in-house team – the decor is simple. In one room, a scrubbed farmhouse table has rush seating placed around it, while in another area, porcelain sinks for product sampling add to the domestic scene. Elsewhere, the space is kept empty, save for vintage botanical prints or artfully stacked decorative bookshelves.

At a time when maximalism is dominating many design stories, Aesop makes an eternal case for the beauty of minimal design. Inherently chic, this blissful interior proves that decorating simply is something to aspire to – as is having a display of Aesop products adorning your bathroom shelf!

Aesop Brighton 104-105 Gloucester Road, Brighton, UK

Ostens: Scents and Sensibility

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New scent brand Ostens is channelling the sensory power of fragrance with a vibrant, immersive installation in London


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New fragrance brand Ostens wants to change the way we think about scent. The idea is to harness emotions – through the use of single note-inspired scents – and visualize them in terms of colour. Abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky believed that colour is a power that directly influences the soul. Ostens is clearly on the same page.

The conceptual label is currently showcasing its first set of fragrances in a gallery-like space at London’s 62 Blandford Street in Marylebone, debuting with a pink neon-lit, rose-inspired installation designed by Ostens’ Creative Director Mark Wilkie. The sensory experience will constantly evolve with a fresh installation every couple of months to showcase individual perfumes. This is about encountering perfume not through typical advertising but instead by taking in the atmosphere directly and following your nose for yourself.

ABOVE: An eye-popping luminescent pink display in London’s Marylebone showcasing ’Rose OiI Isparta’ from Ostens’ debut fragrance collection
RIGHT: Ostens co-founders Laurent Delafon and Chris Yu outside the Blandford Street store
BELOW: ’Rose Oil Isparta’ eau de parfum, £145 for 50ml; ’Patchouli Heart’ eau de parfum, £85 for 50ml; ’Cedarwood Heart’ fragrance oil, £35 for 9ml


Ostens is masterminded by two fragrance experts, Laurent Delafon and Chris Yu, who worked with some of the most talented perfumers at International Flavors & Fragrances to craft their new unisex scent collections, launched this December. Creative inspiration came from championing exceptional hero ingredients from Laboratoire Monique Rémy – a world-leading supplier of natural ingredients to the perfume industry, now owned by IFF. The result? Tantalising perfumes designed as an ode to a single note, such as ‘Patchouli Heart No. 1’ by perfumer Domitille Michalon Bertier and ‘Rose Oil Isparta’ by Dominique Ropion. Préparations (perfume oils) intensify and carry the key ingredients, while Impressions (eau de parfum) use the hero elements as a jumping-off point.

Combining perfume with colour and art, Laurent and Chris have taken the olfactive compositions even further by developing a visual language for each of the hero notes, making the invisible visible through the use of colour combinations to evoke emotions generated by the distinctive scents.

Ostens offers five Préparations (fragrance oils), from £35 for 9ml, and six Impressions (eau de parfum), from £85 for 50ml. Discover Ostens in residence at 62 Blandford Street, London W1; see website for opening hours.

Claus Porto Takes Manhattan

New Yorkers can snap up a little Portuguese style with the arrival of Claus Porto’s first standalone store outside Portugal. Olá Manhattan!


Portuguese label Claus Porto is famed for its exquisitely packaged soaps and, more recently, its revamped ‘Agua de Colonia' fragrance collection (right) created in collaboration with leading British perfumer Lyn Harris. However, until now, the company has been very much under the radar – a secret Lisbon and Porto gem for beauty and graphics enthusiasts alike. This is about to change.

RIGHT: British perfumer Lyn Harris has been instrumental in the brand’s revamp, These five new fragrances are based on a modern interpretation of colognes. ‘Agua de Colonia’ collection, £85 each for 125ml

Claus Porto has just opened a store on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s Nolita, the beauty and fragrance label’s first retail space beyond their Portuguese home. Conceived by New York firm Tacklebox Architecture, under the direction of Jeremy Barbour, the scheme is eye-catching in every sense. 

Milled from Portuguese cork, 1,500 faceted white diamond tiles line the walls of the vaulted interior, incorporating carved display niches. A 42-foot-long archway has also been inserted into the ground floor of this early 1800s building. Both pay homage to Portuguese architecture and craftsmanship, with the arch and tiles referencing Porto’s Sao Bento train station, which was first proposed in 1887 – the same year that Claus Porto was founded.

BELOW: The 1,500 faceted diamond tiles were milled from Portuguese cork – a material characteristic to the country – and reference the decorative azulejo tiled façade of the historic Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon

The arch serves as a dramatic portal to welcome visitors into the beautifully patterned and scented world of Claus Porto. It’s an otherwise minimal space, with a monolithic marble wash basin at its heart, celebrating bathing rituals. Yes, the interior is cool and futuristic – but the product remains king. What can we say but obrigado!

Claus Porto, 230 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012. See Claus Porto’s website for details of their Portuguese stores in Lisbon and Porto.

Goop London Pop-Up

Goop brings its Californian-inspired beauty, fashion and homewares collection to the UK with its debut London pop-up store, a blend of British craftsmanship and West Coast chill


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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has opened in its first UK pop-up store – in London’s Westbourne Grove – and we’re already feeling enriched.

Combining retail therapy with their open-minded and holistic approach to wellbeing as a lifestyle, it is far from wacky and a brilliant new destination for anyone interested in Californian-vibe beauty and style.

Expect a chic, curated collection of Goop’s own-line products, including luxurious, high-performance skincare drawing on organic ingredients, Italian-made limited edition clothing, and pretty plates and glassware by brands such as Mud Australia, Nude Glass and CB2. The understated homewares range features tempting cushions, throws, tableware and kitchen kit.

You’ll also fall for the light-filled, nature-inspired surrounds created by London-based interior designer Fran Hickman. Her vision for the store references the Zen-influenced monochrome paintings of Yves Klein and early physic gardens devoted to the study of restorative plants. Fran worked with local design talents to bring the space to life – Nikki Tibbles of Wild at Heart for planting, Pinch for furniture and beauty displays, Nest Design for the electric-blue curtains in the dressing area, and Vitsoe for its iconic shelving systems. Architectural salvage firm Retrouvius supplied a vintage museum cabinet.

ABOVE: The entrance to Goop’s London pop-up shop is filled with plant displays by Nikki Tibbles.
ABOVE RIGHT: Goop’s own-line detoxifying salt bath soak G.Tox. £30 for 680gm

ABOVE: A deep blue colour scheme channels the ocean on the basement fashion floor; industrial chipboard delivers an inexpensive yet effective display system in the homewares section, flanked by sunny gold paint; Pinch’s smart red ‘Joyce’ cabinet and ‘Clyde’ side table with stripped floorboards and tile details; the ‘Imo’ bench by Pinch in a restful foliage- and light-filled space at the front of the store

Goop celebrates its 10-year anniversary with this London outpost – slated to stay open until 27 January 2019 – setting the stage for further international boutiques. Goop fans in search of their simple yet elegant contemporary pieces can also shop online.

Goop, 188 Westbourne Grove, London W11

Northern Design Festival 2016

Hooked on design festivals? Us too. Head to the North East of England for a series of exhibitions that brings together top northern talent to explore the creative ideas behind the things that surround us everyday...


Hot on the heels of London Design Festival (Recovered? Yes? Good!), October sees the opening of the Northern Design Festival, a showcase of the best in contemporary design by leading northern, national and international designers across the creative spectrum. Hosted in Newcastle, the event runs until 16 October, so you have six days left to get your Geordie Shore on. 

Curated by Design Event and supported by the Northern Design Centre, this year’s festival line-up has eight exhibitions featuring work by more than 65 designers and architects, along with a programme of special events, tours and talks from some of the world’s leading creatives. On the festival’s focus – ‘Where Do Ideas Come From?’ – show director Karen Nairstone explains: ‘It’s a theme that relates to us all, whether you work or study in the industry or just love good design, there’s something for everyone. Once again we have some stunning hidden-gem venues in Newcastle city centre, including our Festival hub – The Assembly House and Cooper’s Studios – perfect backdrops against which to showcase the best in contemporary design.’ One of the highlights of this year's show is 2015 Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble's take over of the historic Assembly House (a wonderfully crumbly neo-classical Georgian stunner) with a site-specific installation that shows off products by Granby Workshop – a social enterprise set up by Assemble that makes experimental products for homes.

ABOVE: Art director Vaughan Oliver's abstract cover for the new Pixies' album 'Head Carrier'
ABOVE RIGHT: Assemble's iconic 'Granby Rock Mantlepiece' made of recycled construction waste
BELOW: Arjan Van Dal's chalky ceramics are on show at Hothouse

ABOVE: Mark McCormick's cool copper 'Port Round' mirror for Novocastrian is our designer crush in the Design Event MART; We love this colourful prototype snowball machine by Chrissie Macdonald for Block magazine, part of the 'Where Do Ideas Come From?' show

Experience 'Hothouse', a selection of craft-focused work by the hottest designer-makers across the UK, snoop at Newcastle-based industrial designer David Irwin’s seating retrospective, including his iconic 'Tyneside Lounger' for Deadgood and his 'Hardy Chair' for Another Country. Fans of graphic art can fill their boots at 'Where Do Ideas Come From?' featuring work by renowned illustrators, image makers, graphic designers and typographers including Vaughan Oliver, Noma Bar and Alan Kitching, or 'Hollywood Hates Me', an exhibition of rejected poster artwork from some of the world’s favourite movies by Newcastle-based creative agency Keltie Cochrane.

‘The festival is now in its 11th year and is a real focus for the design industry across the North,’ says Nairstone. ‘It provides an important platform to showcase some of the best design studios based here in the North and it certainly enhances the economy through the conversations, collaborations and new projects that are developed during the festival week. By showcasing some of the best national and international talent we want to inspire graduates and emerging studios, to encourage them to stay in the region. We need to work harder to keep our brilliant graduates here in the North, and it has been great to see Build relocate their studio from London back to Leeds. Now, more than ever, we need to use our creativity and innovation to improve the economy and showcase our strengths. Being shortlisted to host the Great Exhibition of the North shows that our creativity isn’t going unnoticed, and we have our fingers crossed for the results.’

These are all enticing reasons to make the trip up the M1. ‘Feedback has been that by being on a smaller scale than shows like the London Design Festival we have a special, almost boutique feel, so it’s easier to have inspiring conversations – and to get round all the events,’ Nairstone continues. ‘I think the theme also makes it distinct and draws connections between the individual events across the festival. There’s a really high quality across all the events and an equal amount of graphics, architecture and product design in some truly stunning hidden-gem venues.’

ABOVE FROM TOP: Rejected Hollywood poster artwork by Keltie Cochrane; David Irwin's 'Tyneside Lounger' for Deadgood; Mesmeric 'Marble Candy' pendant lighting by Janey Speers at Design Event MART

The festival has also shifted from being an insiders' design industry scene to a consumer-friendly event with items on sale as well as on show. Definitely worth a visit is the popular Design Event MART and pop-up Design Event Store at The Assembly House. Here, furniture, ceramics, textiles and lighting are all yours for the taking, so you can bring home a souvenir from your trip. Sounds like a win win situation to us...

The 2016 Northern Design Festival is on now until 16 October at venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. Tickets are £2.50 for exhibition entry, or free for under 18s and staff places for school and college group visits.