Lamb's Conduit Street has to be one of the most endearing shopping thoroughfares in London, quietly sitting just north of bustling Holborn and nudging the southern edge of bookish Bloomsbury. It already hosts an impressive selection of boutiques, with a particular focus on menswear (trad English gentlemen's outfitters and Yankee upstarts J.Crew are residents) plus the peerless Persephone Books, and so it was a natural choice for cult Aussie skincare brand Aesop to set up shop.
Aesop stores are always temples of tranquility and they make a point of commissioning talented archictects and designers to create spaces that are firmly rooted in their locality. But the interiors are far from po-faced - there's a playfulness to the fixtures and fittings that invites the casual visitor to engage with them, much as a child is encouraged to in the Science Museum.
Here, local design studio James Plumb created the interior, referencing Bloomburyite Dora Carrington's paintings for colour inspiration and using tactile materials like reclaimed quarry tiles. Water drips and flows along copper shelving from vertical pipes, while the lotions and potions in their distinctive brown bottles seem to float above. It was impossible to resist trailing my fingers through the calm ripples, and I think that was the idea. This is about as far from the hectic, over-heated perfume hall experience as you could possibly get.
At the back of the store is a quiet, contemplative conservstory-type space with a sink and pleasingly rustic garden furniture - this is where consultations will happen. Beyond that lies a calm courtyard with lush potted plants - an unfinished outdoor room that will surely prove its worth in the steamy city summers.
We were also introduced to some new products for summer: Oil Free Facial Hydrating Serum (£43 for 100ml), Immediate Moisture Facial Hydrosol (£17 60ml)and Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque (£33 for 60ml). This trio of products has been designed specifically to deal with the hassles of summer skin - excess oiliness, breakouts and, conversely, dryness. They encourage you to stick to a regular routine, rather than frantically trying to scrub greasy skin clean - a counter-productive exercise as it only encourages the skin to produce more oil.
The masque is described as being particularly good for 'oily, combination or neglected skin' and as mine is definitely the latter, I decided to give it a go. The mask looks like pale grey mud (actually Bentonite and Kaolin clay) and smells divine - that'll be the Rosehip and Evening Primrose essential oils. Smooth it over clean skin and leave it for 15 minutes, then wipe it off. All the natural goodies will draw out grub and imbibe Vitamin E and nourishing fatty acids (mmm, fatty acids) to leave skin looking and feeling soft, smooth and generally plumptious.
Aesop, 50 Lambs Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3LH, aesop.com