How far can you push a retail concept and still keep it real? We think Paris-based Archiee has pushed their concept for the first boutique of a new Japanese cosmetics brand EN to just that edge: As far as you can go but not too far.
What saves the new en store, located in an 18th century building in central Paris, from going too far is the gorgeous underground vault.
The arches and the textured stone walls of the vault lend believability to the shine, whiteness and rounded shapes of the street-level space.
A new concept by the Japanese cosmetics and medical giant Lenor, en is based on the idea of customers mixing their own personalized products from more than 100 different essences.
In addition, en offers counselling, treatments and massage services. The concept is tapping into several ongoing trends, most notably the customers’ desire for true service, personalization and knowing what goes into the cosmetics they buy.
Archiee’s plan puts the entrance area and counselling and treatment spaces on the ground floor. In a nod to the Japanese hospitality tradition of step-by-step discovery, the treatment areas are reached via a winding path rather than head-on through a stark door.
The basement vault is also divided into two areas; the massage area and the product gallery and mixing counter. Products are displayed as in a wine cellar, individually lit and lined up perfectly with additional product underneath in boxes made of Japanese paulownia wood.
We love the balance of old and new in the vault with the beautiful stone walls giving warmth and texture to the more sterile and austere brass, mirror and wood.
Although we are not huge fans of golden hues, here they are perfect. They soften the metallic feel and add a touch of luxury without being over the top.
The brand’s name en has three meanings in Japanese: connection, circle and beauty. Those are the three aspects Archiee has attempted to express in the concept. We feel they have succeeded. Tuija Seipell.
EN PARIS is located at 7 rue de Condé Paris.
Images by David Foessel