New York, NY
The word Qiora, which means “light from within,” is the name of the holistic skin care brand launched in 2001 by Japan’s Shiseido Cosmetics. ARO was commissioned to design a day spa which would also serve as the brand’s flagship store. To overlap a spa’s need for privacy with the theater required for successful retail, ARO referenced Qiora’s own holistic approach to skin health. If the store and spa is outwardly luminous, the source of such light must be a sense of inner calm.
In a storefront on Madison Avenue, ARO set out to create this built manifestation of the brand’s vision. Blue organza fabric veils suspended by a Velcro system from the twenty-foot ceilings set the visual and tactile boundaries required between retail, treatment areas, and the spa cabins. Dyed milky white, aqua, and darker blues, these layered veils dematerialize the solid surfaces of the round spa cabins. The gauzy colors are carefully calibrated by overlapping layers of fabric and placement of illumination. They draw the eye continually further into the space, where a soothing, clean mood refreshes the visitors.
In contrast to the ethereal architecture are the containers of Qiora products, designed by Shiseido creative director Aoshi Kudo. Situated on tabletops and shelves of frosted acrylic, products are illuminated using fiber optic uplights. Hidden along perimeter walls, behind white flame retardant fabric, are Qiora’s central lighting fixtures, a staggered formation of vertical fluorescents. Mornings and afternoons, Qiora’s computer-controlled lighting is mutely white. Intimate, bluer tones come out in the evening, making the store and spa a lantern on Madison Avenue.
The diffusion of light through organza is notable for its natural feel, as if a cloud were passing over the sun. It casts the visitor’s skin in a rare luster. Simply being present inside the space evokes the refreshment and relaxation made available through Qiora products.
Location: New York City