Of minerals and mountains - Lifestyle NZ
Of minerals and mountains

Of minerals and mountains

A somewhat unlikely pairing between a renowned beauty brand and a New Zealand stone manufacturer has resulted in a stunning design solution. This is the story of how Aesop’s High Street, Auckland store came to life.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

For Australian skincare brand Aesop, the location of new stores is an important one. When considering possible locations, it is Aesop’s intention to weave themselves into the fabric of the street, working with what is already in place, treading lightly with respect for the past, present and future. 

When it came to Aesop’s second New Zealand store, situated on Auckland’s High Street, the surrounds were of paramount importance. “Edged by the historic fortifications of Albert Park, the 67-square metre spaces makes tonal and textural gestures to the site’s history; namely, its mysterious tunnels carved from the hill’s volcanic rock foundations,” Aesop in-house architect Chris Thompson says.

“The design marries angular lines with the formidable heft of stone. Timaru bluestone was selected for the walls, offering texture, scale and a beautiful character to the interior. Its deep blue-grey hue is offset by mossy green - a visual allusion to the lichen that coats the volcanic peak of One Tree Hill - and muted lighting.” 

Its deep blue-grey hue is offset by mossy green - a visual allusion to the lichen that coats the volcanic peak of One Tree Hill...
Timaru bluestone was selected for the walls, offering texture, scale and a beautiful character to the interior.

Upon entry, twin faceted steel masses provide a visual through-line. The smaller of these slabs features embedded hand-carved stone troughs and custom taps; the larger, at the rear, constitutes the point-of-sale counter. These monolithic forms are complemented by brushed metal shelving, inviting clients to meander through the space,” Chris says. 

What is Timaru bluestone?

Basalt is found all over the world but Timaru bluestone, which is a type of basalt, is arguably the most naturally striking and beautiful in appearance. “It is the most versatile stone that is quarried in New Zealand,” Timaru Bluestone’s Rene Kempf says. 

“Used for everything from pavers to tiles, feature walls, cladding, outdoor furniture and hearths, the options are endless - across residential, civil and commercial applications. 

“The material itself was formed when the eruptions of Mt Horrible, west of Timaru, resulted in flowing lava rivers that cooled into long bluffs and ridges of a blue/grey vesicular basalt rock, run through with veins and features unlike any other rock in New Zealand. To that end, each piece is completely unique in character,” Rene says.

Aesop's Auckland store was designed with Timaru bluestone as a feature.

What can Timaru bluestone/basalt be used for?

“The versatility of this stone is a result of its makeup. Unaffected by weather, it is low in maintenance requirements, naturally non slip, and will last for generations. The ultimate stability of Timaru bluestone means it is commonly specified for a vast range of uses. For example, applications have included the streetscaping in Lorne and High streets in central Auckland, and the paving and streetscaping around Newmarket. In saying that, it’s also used for feature walls, fire surrounds and hearths, cladding, and for landscaping features and memorials. 

“The Aesop store is a stunning example of the true impact this material can have; its irregularity of veining and distinctive character creates a compelling space truly aligned with the New Zealand environment,” Rene says.

What finishes are available for Timaru basalt?

The finish used in the Aesop store is what is known as a bush hammered or bird-pecked finish; a finish achieved by hammering the surface of the rock to create a textural appearance highlighting the beauty of the raw material as the light hits it. “With this finish, the indentations allow for the light to fall and reflect the tiny, fine crystals that run through the rock,” Rene says. 

“The textured finish is a good option for retail fitouts, cladding and feature walls. For applications where more contact with the material is likely to be a factor, such as hallways or walls where people may brush their clothes past the stone, a honed finish can be the best option. This is smoother, creating an almost suede-like finish. It is shiny yet still has a textural quality and generally the most-used option for residential settings.”

Find out more about the unique appeal of this distinctly New Zealand rock, and the custom and bespoke options Timaru bluestone could offer your next project.  

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