Renaissance of the Lab Aesthetic, London
While not new, a fresh wave of laboratory-inspired spatial concepts has re-emerged strongly in London, attuned to the increasing brand desire – particularly in the beauty and food sectors – for displaying brand innovation and, in some cases, a fresh sense of tradition-bucking wonderment. We spotlight the best latest examples:
Le Labo – Inside an Industrial Fragrance Revolution: Made-to-order NY perfume label Le Labo has opened a third London store in Covent Garden observing an industrial meets shabby-luxe store featuring roughly textured, stripped back walls, reclaimed dark wood flooring, vintage furniture and old-fashioned factory style lighting – but with the significant addition of a mini laboratory. Partitioned off from the rest of the store by a glass wall, employees can be clearly seen within the space refilling and customising products. Bottles are packaged with medicine styled labels. The store echoes the London flagship of Brooklyn chocolatiers the Mast Brothers, where the store’s entire back wall is a window, allowing full visibility on its production processes. See Intimate Democratic & Inclusive: New Brand Spaces.
Malin + Goetz’s Apothecary Labs: US skincare brand Malin + Goetz has expanded its overseas retail footprint by opening two apothecary lab inspired stores in Covent Garden and Islington. The latter, designed by London-based studio Jonathan Tuckey Design, modernises the traditional apothecary by combining 19th century style architecture with contemporary scientific paraphernalia such as lab flasks, displayed in extremely orderly fashion on a rigid wooden shelving structure.
Restaurant Meets Pharmacy: Thirteen years after his last gastronomic venture, infamous British artist Damien Hirst has collaborated with British chef Mark Hix to create an art and food infused restaurant entitled Pharmacy 2. Located in Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, South London, the venture was realised by London designers Barber & Osgerby and references Hirst’s 1992 installation of the same name, and his more general fascination with science. It features bar stools topped with pastel-coloured pill shaped seats, pill themed wall charts, and windows covered in dark-tint semi-translucent vinyl.
Brixton’s First Aid Box: Bearing traces of Pharmacy 2, First Aid Box is a medicinal themed café and bar located in Brixton serving locally sourced food and drink in pharmaceutically appropriate syringes and drip bags. The walls are adorned with white tiles, and pharmacological paraphernalia sits on the shelves to act as fitting additions to the surgically styled interior.
Four Winters Sci-Fi Ice Cream: Tapping into a growing market for made-to-order ice cream, Jordan-based ice cream parlour Four Winters, which specialises in liquid nitrogen ice cream, has arrived in the UK with an outpost in Gloucester Road, North London. Visitors can select seasonal flavours and witness the spectacle of the ice cream being frozen in front of them within seconds, within a cinematically sci-fi-styled space featuring counter tops boasting nitrogen machines. Co-founder Zeid Zabian described it as a place to make the magical, childlike aspect of ice cream “relevant for a 21st century audience”.
See also Scientifically Styled Spaces.