One of the most important UK retail stories over the last 20 years this beauty business started life in the basement of a Covent Garden warehouse. The original intention was for a mini department store selling beauty products new to the market with clothes, shoes handbags and a small coffee bar.
Access from the street brought you through a huge, hinged timber door and down a stunning glass lit staircase with a large stainless-steel fan built into the wall - to imply fresh air. The building had brick vault ceilings, exposed steel columns and the charm of a warehouse. Our language was simple and restrained and the business grew.
The next step was for a ground floor link to exist behind the fan and act as a thoroughfare to an area just selling cosmetics. It was a small addition to the original business model; this became the Apothecary.
Subsequently, a limited roll out of the Apothecary model was planned for several locations, with sole concentration on cosmetics. Location was critical of course such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, but the design was simple: a white box, with shelving where the cosmetics were the star of the show, standing out from the white/glass/steel materials. The cosmetics were displayed as art objects with space around them.
The business became a ‘category killer’ and was recognised and much copied by retailers in the UK and abroad.