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Credit: Adrien Williams


Created in Melbourne in 1987, the Aesop brand specializes in skin care products. For their Westmount boutique, architect Alain Carle took a look at the identifying nature of water in the history of Montreal’s development. Nature changing with the seasons, it has a contemplative quality which translates into an abstract composition in light and dark planes. A metaphor evoking the chromatic polarity of snow and “black water" from the St. Lawrence River during winter. The wood floor is reminiscent of tree trunks floating on a dark river, while the trunks of three birch trees are reminiscent of the Quebec forest. A long brass sink also seems to be suspended in weightlessness. Above the cash desk, Serge Mouille’s Tripode lamp looks like an insect barely out of a swamp. The space was designed in concert with the artist Pascal Grandmaison, whose video installation splits a slow aquatic movement and dialogues with the meditative atmosphere of the place. [1] 

Three slender birch tree trunks disappear into the floor and ceiling, punctuating the room’s design. Like the mottled skin of the plaster-work, their thin papery skins continue to change over time, often sloughing off to the touch. Reclaimed from a nearby forest, these branches successfully anchor the metaphoric landscape in the local, and mask the discrete service point to the rear. [2]

Aesop Westmount is a celebration of water’s layered significance and its relationship to the natural environment. This first Montreal location is situated in the Westmount district, a village-like enclave first settled in the seventeenth century. The design was created in collaboration with Quebecois architect Alain Carle, who used Ivan Illich’s essay H2O & the Waters of Forgetfulness as a point of departure for examining the diverse cultural and symbolic meanings of this essential element, which has a prominent role in the local landscape. [3]


[1]     “Aesop Westmount.” Alain Carle Architecte. Accessed May 31, 2021. http://alaincarle.ca/projects/commercial/aesop/.

[2]      Southcott, Tanya. “Pure Aesthetic: Aesop Westmount, Montreal, Quebec.” Canadian Architect, June 20, 2019. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/pure-aesthetic/.

[3]     “Taxonomy of Design.” Aesop — Taxonomy of Design. Accessed May 31, 2021. http://taxonomyofdesign.com/#!/store?store=77§ion=material.

Additional Information

“Aesop Westmount: Alain Carle Architecte.” Archello. Accessed May 31, 2021. https://archello.com/project/aesop-westmount.

Sagredo, Rayen. “AESOP Westmount / Alain Carle Architecte.” ArchDaily. ArchDaily, August 31, 2018. https://www.archdaily.com/900075/aesop-westmount-alain-carle-architecte.

Project Title: Aesop Westmount
Artists:  Alain Carle
Place: Westmount, QC

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