Aesop Ion

Singapore’s iconic Orchard Road is a world removed from the sleepy nutmeg orchards which once grew there. Our design for Aesop Ion looks to these simple origins for inspiration.

Traditionally, the drying of nutmeg and mace is a patient process which may take up to four months. During drying, the nut and mace rest in wide shallow porous metal trays, on rudimentary timber racks. The simple materiality of this unhurried process and strong horizontal geometry of the drying racks form the genesis of the design. An unassuming palette of perforated galvanised steel & solid unvarnished timber is adopted for the shelving and basins. These are complemented by a backdrop of subtle earth tones made of artisanal sand concrete on other surfaces. Our design approach was to take these simple materials and to utilise them in ways which are transformative.

Where the nutmeg drying racks had chunky timber frames onto which lightweight porous metal trays were slotted, the design here reverses that relationship. The vertical structure is made of thin perforated steel sheets which are folded for strength. These in turn hold slim teak shelves. The basin, which is usually conceived as an impervious and concave entity, is made to appear as a singular porous object of perforated steel, with no indents or recesses to contain water. Instead water flows into its bespoke permeable outer surface and disappears almost magically.

A language of curves is used. It elevates the simple materials beyond the humble, orthogonal, agricultural shed and racks, and echoes the organic forms of nature and the nutmeg fruit itself. The curved plan also encourages an effortless flow of space within the store, integrating the various parts seamlessly. The curved geometry dissolves edges and instils quietude.
completed 2020
904 sqft
peter sim, selwyn low, nina arily, jaclyn chan, limay foo