Commissioned to design the showroom and head office of aromatherapy skincare brand UC Naturel in Guangzhou, China, the company’s first brick-and-mortar venue, local design practice Leaping Creative took advantage of the riverside location to create a tranquil, soothing environment in dialogue with nature that evocatively embodies the healing power of natural aromas. Working with an existing three-storey building, the team applied a Wabi Sabi-informed sculptural design language of fluid lines, circular forms and sandy tones to create an immersive space animated in equal measure by the brand’s healing aromas and the interplay of light and shadow. Circular shapes were also incorporated into the brand’s product packaging, which Leaping Creative was also tasked with designing along with the company’s brand identity, adding up to a truly holistic experience of visual, olfactory and tactile enchantment.
Located by the river, at the tip of a small peninsula that overlooks the city’s wetlands, the company couldn’t have chosen a more suitable location to showcase the healing, calming and balancing effects of nature-based aromatherapy. In order to make the most of the abundant natural light streaming in from the large glass openings punctuating the ground floor facades, the designers have swathed the interior in sandy hues upon which a sensuous choreography of light and shadow unfolds throughout the day, from the early morning sunlight, to simmering river reflections and dappled tree shadows, to golden sunset hues. In combination with the brand’s fragrant products, the space becomes a container of light and aromas.
The muted colour palette is combined with natural materials like stone, wood and bronze to create a soothing environment characterized by round forms inspired by tree rings, water ripples and other natural elements. Arc-shaped walls, partitions and display counters delineate areas without fully enclosing them, a blob-shaped marble top on three monolithic cylindrical supports paired with a cylindrical bronze wash basin makes for a sculptural focal point, as does a monumental spiral staircase that leads to the office spaces on the two upper floors. The latter also attests to the project’s sustainable ethos – the timber risers are made from recycled timber that has been sourced from local houses.
Playful details abound as seen in the pattern of the terrazzo flooring in the main showroom which alludes to the diffusion of aromas with darker pieces radiating from the central island or the pieces of paper stuck on the wall in the blending area which present handwritten aroma formulas by the company’s founder.
The soothing, minimalist aesthetic of the showroom interiors is translated in Leaping Creative’s packaging design. Combining simple forms, circular motifs and earthy hues with sustainable materials including glass and wood, the product packaging underlines a deep connection with nature in reflection of the brand’s ethos.