Addicted To Retail (ATR) presents: Aesop Brera, Milan, Italy.
The first Italian signature store, Aesop Brera, is a contemporary insertion into the fabric of Milan’s history. Occupying a corner tenancy, the 60-square metre space is located in a nineteenth-century building on the Piazza del Carmine, next to the fifteenth-century Chiesa Santa Maria del Carmine. The neighbourhood, traditionally home to artists and ateliers, is now one of the main centres of Milan’s annual furniture fair, Salon del Mobile. A collaboration with local studio Vincenzo de Cotiis Architects, the contemplative design gives a subtle nod to its previous incarnation as a salumeria.
This embedded heritage is honoured in several ways. The three-dimensional lettering of the salumeria’s signage still adorns the façade, albeit with a fresh coat of white paint. Inside, an exposed stone wall is a monument to the past, while a sheet of peach-coloured glass acts like a filter in the large windows, refracting light into the contemporary interiors. Surfaces are kept cool and minimal – polished concrete floors intersect with pale grey plaster walls. Hints of the baroque creep into the details, with discreet brass edging to window frames and display cases. Asymmetrical shelving protrudes from the wall at uneven intervals and a plush russet-hued armchair sits to one side. An irregularly shaped sales counter is constructed from moulded fibreglass in a natural tone, with irregular flecks creating depth and interest in its faceted form. The wall-mounted sink is made from a slightly darker fiberglass, the mottled plasticity effecting a soapstone-like finish.
Joined to the main space by a short corridor is a second room, decorated in a similar palette to the retail area. Striking feature shelving units are mounted to the wall, forming tiered nooks for products. Potted plants and vintage furniture, including a marble-topped table and antique chandelier, and add a personal touch.
Existing at the intersection of the past, present and future of this creative quarter, Aesop Brera’s layered execution invites leisurely appreciation.