Nendo Designs for Athletia
Nendo designs for skincare brand Athletia based in Omotesando, Tokyo, focusing on its brand values, a balance between movement and stillness, inner beauty, and compassion for the environment, all expressed through its interior architecture.
Athletia’s concept is to support a balanced lifestyle of active and vigorous movement as well as a quiet, mind-body serenity. Its product line-up is based on the idea that when training the inner muscles, the body is made beautiful from the inside out. Further, in addition to using natural ingredients cultivated by sustainable growers, the brand takes sustainability into consideration by using natural plant essential oils for 90–100% of fragrances, using 90% or more recycled glass for glass containers, and making plastic containers with bio polyethylene, a raw material made of sugar cane. Three brand values of the brand—a balance between movement and stillness, inner beauty, and compassion for the environment—needed to expressed in Athletia’s interior space.
According to the designers, “The balance between movement and stillness of the brand ideals was expressed in the design of display fixtures of various, layered materials held in a delicate balance. Among such fixtures, some are split, and inner beauty is expressed in the use of brand colors or different material in the cross-section of their exposed insides.”
Natural materials such as flaxseed oil, pine resin, and sawdust compose 94–98% of the flooring, and even if discarded as is, they will biodegrade and return to the earth. The base of the floor is partially derived from recycled polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from used agricultural plastic film. Recycled materials from ceramics factory waste make up 43% of the tiles used for counters and countertops. Some of the terrazzo feature crushed and reused glass from Athletia’s defective glass containers and glass fragments from the production process. Compassion for the environment is thus expressed even in the interior design materials.
The designers used nine wood panels to partially block the otherwise unobstructed view of the entire store interior, thereby piquing curiosity. “This is because the flagship store on Omotesando is a characteristic building with shallow depth and wide-open glass siding, which gave made it easy to see deep into the building,” explain the designers, but the material selection and the placement has a deeper meaning, “The panels are composed of white birch selectively removed in forest thinning operations, sliced to make the most of their uneven tree rings, and then individually applied by hand. Finally, as with the display fixtures, the panels were installed to graze each other in a curious mid-air balancing act. The intention here was to depict the three brand values again, this time as awareness of the interior, timber from thinning operations, and balance.”
On the first floor are product displays, in-store testers, and a consultation area. Meanwhile, space on the second floor has been allocated for various events and workshops like yoga, Pilates, and aromatherapy courses, with private rooms for different types of massage. The material on the underside of the staircase handrail changes along the way to the second floor, communicating to visitors by touch that they will soon finish climbing to their destination.
“Though unseen, such sleights of hand convey by touch the brand concept of outwardly manifesting what is within,” explain the designers.
Between the seen and unseen, texture and smoothness, the brand values are heightened with the material play and careful furniture design.