Thursday 18 Apr 2024
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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 26, 2016.

When Aesop was established in Melbourne in 1987, its founders’ goal was to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality. So, they searched far and wide to source plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients, using only those with a proven record of safety and efficacy. The result was a wildly successful brand that stole the hearts of people around the world, and today, Aesop stores can be found in many parts of the world, including New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and right here in Kuala Lumpur. 

Its newest signature store located at The Gardens Mall was designed by Melbourne-based architecture firm Russell & George, and features a theme swathed in caramel-toned oak, subtly referencing forms found in nature. The design acknowledges a respect for the fragile landscapes of neighbouring islands in the Southeast Asian archipelago, and the neutral colour palette affords a sense of lightness. 

It is Aesop’s focus on the fusion of nature and architecture that drew local artist Seah Zelin. As part of a new collaboration between the two, Seah is showcasing his artwork titled Picnic at the new store. Seah’s pieces have been previously exhibited in the State Art Fair at London’s Saatchi Gallery. His works reflect life, socio-economic and political concerns in Malaysia, connecting figures, objects and space to examine what living here is like. 

Prior to going full-time into fine art, Seah, who was trained as an illustrator, used to be an art lecturer. Part way through his teaching career, he decided to switch paths and went to further his studies in fine art in the United Kingdom in 2007. While there, he stumbled across an exhibition featuring figurative painter Francis Bacon, who Seah claims is his favourite artist of all time. 

Today, Seah dabbles in different mediums and materials — though trained as a painter, he now creates sculptures as well. Currently, aluminium is his favourite medium to work with because it is a reflection of our modern society — everywhere we go, aluminium is all around us. From planes to cans of drinks; it’s a convenient material that fits the needs of today. 

Seah is an avid reader of non-fiction titles in science, history and geography, which he claims are the source of his inspiration. By being compelled to see the world from different points of view—such as how a scientist and carpenter would see the world differently—he is able to put himself in various shoes and look at things from different perspectives. 

Seah was inspired to work with Aesop because of the architectural styles that the brand has for each store. “They have a different direction for each store, and I am very much into structure and space. You can tell from my paintings that they involve different kinds of space. Aesop and I share the same interests in space and material,” Seah explained.

Aesop’s stores exude a calming effect created by the rich material contrasts used. At The Gardens store, a demonstration sink is made with tarnished brass and sunken into a counter that seamlessly extends into a point-of-scale on one side, and steps down to a lozenge-shaped bench seat on the other. Cushioned with supple leather, this perch offers an ideal vantage point to view a tiered Stilnovo pendant lamp in brass and to rest weary limbs. 

Picnic is now on display at Aesop Gardens till June 1. Visit the store to explore a complete range of skin, body and hair care products made from botanical-based ingredients. The store’s trained consultants are available to offer advice about products best suited to individual needs. 

Aesop Gardens is located at F225, The Gardens Mall, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur. For more information, call (03) 2202 1588.

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