Archiee: En Store

Precedent study written for Wabi Sabi: Store + Studio project


DATE: 2018

Designed for Japanese cosmetics brand, En, Archiee transformed this 18th century Parisian building into a boutique shop and treatment space. “The name ‘En’ translates as ‘beauty’ in Japanese, but can also mean ‘circle’ and ‘connection’. These three translations all inspired the design of the store.” (Morris, 2019).

Within the space, multiple rooms and functions are created: a boutique where products are displayed, a treatment space, two enclosed massage spaces, a product gallery and a blending counter, where customers can create customised skincare products. To form these areas, curving brass partitions of fluid circular forms are used. “The external surfaces of the circle partitions are finished in polished brass to bring a distorted and warm reflection,” (Archiee, 2018). The remaining space surrounding the brass partitions creates a unique shaped layout that means customers must at times walk down narrow paths to get to the treatment rooms - something that the designer wanted to include to reflect the experience of visiting a traditional Japanese tea house. 


Whilst upstairs brass is used to form the curved partitions, downstairs in the product display area, brass is used in the furniture and lighting elements. A circular table and stools form the ‘blending counter’, as circular lights hang from above. The use of brass throughout the design is reminiscent of the gold lacquer found in Kintsugi repairs, and therefore would be a good material to use in the ‘wabi sabi’ concept design. The polished brass also highlights the ‘imperfections’ in the old stone work, and emphasises the wear and age of time. This supports the ‘wabi sabi’ concept, as the patina and imperfections of ageing objects is greatly valued in Japanese culture. 

The product display in the stone-vaulted hall space consists of shallow, back-lit shelves that span the length of the space. Below the shelves, the products are stored like wine bottles in a wine cellar, in boxes made from Japanese paulowina wood. This display style is very typical of Japanese interior design aesthetics, as a minimalist look is achieved by having more items put away than on display. 


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