ToSummer Living Room // F.O.G. Architecture

Beijing, China

Architizer Editors Architizer Editors


Text description provided by the architects.

The new oriental original aromatherapy brand “ToSummer” announces its first off-line flagship store, the “ToSummer living room”, located on the ground floor of Taikoo Li North District, Sanlitun, Beijing. With its inviting combination of streamline and curved surfaces, the design transforms the 170m² space while leading visitors to naturally follow a circular flow.

With the extensive use of mirror effects combined with continued light, naturalistic materials and colors to enhance the ambience of the space, visitors stop and linger to savor the experience. This is exactly the “living room” atmosphere that the owners sought to create – to inspire an emotional feeling between domestic and social, communication and comfort.

Through spatial language, material texture and detailed narration, the project also sets up several groups of apparent “opposites”: warmth and calmness, coarseness and delicacy, hardness and softness, control and intuition, natural and artificial.

Through the spatial design, these “opposites” forms smooth “dialogues”.As the exclusive space of this aromatherapy brand, “ToSummer living room” in Sanlitun, Beijing, expresses the brand identity through the characteristics of “amorphous” and “freedom” utilizing visual and tactile feelings to trigger and extend visitors’ imagination through olfactory perception.Searching for fragrance: The brand’s concrete requirement for this space design was a “Modern Cave”.

The designer chose not to directly create the natural appearance of caves but, instead, presents the characteristic elements of material textures to inspire the sensory experience. It transforms the original cave concept into spatial language, integrating it into this realistic space full of modern Oriental feeling to present a delicate balance between commercial and art, domestic and public realm, natural and artificial.

In contrast to the straightforward window and entryway of standard commercial storefronts, this experience space offers a facade of coarse gray-toned imitation-stone.

The floor at the entrance is raises and retreats while the lighting within is soft and subdued, forming a significant alternative to the noisy, fast and bright shopping mall spatial experience.

The irregular-appearing interior space has been intricately designed and adjusted. It is naturally divided by a “metal screen” at the entrance and along a central island into the “living room” experience area in the front, the exhibition and retail area in the middle, an independent art installation space, and the cashier area at the back.

In their midst, the mirrored metal screen at the entrance echoes the curved wall and streamlined mirror so that the “living room” is naturally divided into several small interconnected blocks which perform their own functions.

The designer incorporated flexibility to spaces, enlarging the adaptability to different exhibition forms.While the exhibition area is composed of shelves and a central island platform comprising a mere 25 m², it reflects the efficiency with which space was designed. The direct “intertextuality” of the metal island platform, shelves and the curved wall presents the products like works of art, achieving a powerful imprint of the brand.The whole indoor traffic line is connected through a U-shaped channel.

When entering, the visitors’ flow is naturally streamlined through the spatial design, decoration and mirror reflected scenery, forming a positive and negative effect like a camera lens, however, the space offers viewers a sense of security.

Aroma “living room”: As the exclusive space of an aromatherapy brand, its exploration into using vision to mobilize the sense of smell is one of the key points of the design.

“amorphous” and “freedom” become the two breakthrough points for designers to develop Synaesthesia, which involves mingling the five senses, such as causing visual elements to evoke a smell sensation. It is as if the scent becomes visible and palpable through use of free and flowing characteristics.The design vocabulary of “amorphous” is mainly reflected in the use of streamlined and curved surfaces.

This dynamic sense and mobility of visual effect, on the one hand, infuses vitality into the pure underground indoor space, while on the other hand, it also embodies the spatial state of “cave”, adding an ambiguous sensation of space between “obvious” and “hidden”.

“Freedom” is the main feature within the “living room”.

The designer was inspired when he selected British artist Max Lamb’s collectable furniture, so he was invited to design exclusive pieces for this space. Through the traditional elements of the living room, such as sofa, chair and coffee table, the designer freely formed a flexible “living room” space. Meanwhile, they adopted new materials such as high-density foam, fiberglass, metal and concrete to create a state of furniture that is “primitive” and “unfinished”, achieving a harmonious coexistence of “natural and fabricated in a prudent manner.

In terms of colors, in addition to the calm temperament of mirrored metal, the solid-color white tone wall base gives the whole space a pure and soft background and, through the interaction of light, shadow and mirror image, it forms a “broad” open space feeling.

The rough imitation-stone material and diatom mud with full texture together with mirrored metal once again play the theme of “natural and fabricated”.

In terms of lighting design, the designer displays a soothing and high-level spatial atmosphere with focus and theme through spotlights, mirror lights, light belts and other forms.

Combined with the reflection of light by mirror and metal materials, the designer uses halo and shadow to reproduce several sets of “dialogues”. Together with the fragrances in the space, it enables people to open their bodily senses and more intimately perceive smell, light and time…

Aroma Gallery: Beyond the concepts of natural and fabricated, another vital proposition that the design team constantly establishes and solves is the balance between commercial and art spaces.

The design attracts customers into the space through implicitly penetrating the interfaces. This kind of exploratory space draws inspiration from museums, art installations and other cultural buildings.And here, it is intended to enhance the artistic connotation of this commercial space, not only to make the space itself have an artistic temperament, but also to allow the fragrance products displayed to be enjoyed and gazed upon like “works of art”.Each of the smaller interconnected segments of the space comprises a different “scene”.

Through the use of mirrors, these various scenes reflected in these mirrors also constitute an interesting level of “play-within-a-play”, making everyone become elements in each other’s scenery.

ToSummer Living Room Gallery