Heliocosm is one of the growing number of organic cosmetic brands with an eye on sustainability, produced on a viable cottage industry scale. But, if such notions were once associated with clog-wearing, muesli-ridden frumpiness, Heliocosm, like a number of other organic cosmetic brands, sees no reason that being committed to an ecologically-sound ethic need have anything to do with drab and dreary.
On the contrary, if their Parisian flagship store designed by the curiously-named FREAKS freearchitects studio is anything to go by, things are looking decidedly stylish in the world of natural beauty. A bold combination of soothing cool blue and natural timber tones creates a relaxing and warm environment while the juxtaposition of clear angular lines of the fittings are occasionally contrasted with accent pieces of vintage furniture that bring a homely sense of domestic intimacy without ever being slouchy. If a tried-and-tested favourite with various cosmetic brands has been to go for a look that implies the underlying science at the heart of cosmetics, then this design offers the best of both worlds. The neat uncluttered surfaces and impressive angular counter that actually fulfils the role of a laboratory workbench – Heliocosm’s commitment to recycling packaging means that a lot of the products will actually be prepared to take home in situ – gives a comforting sense that what one hopes to produce a beauty miracle is actually the product of some sound scientific thinking. But at the same time, the warm tones of the wood and the welcoming curves of the vintage furniture – itself something of a recycling effort since much of it was sourced in Parisian second-hand haunts- gives a sense of welcome. This aesthetic which is one part science lab and one part domestic country kitchen interior is rather an accurate reflection of the brand’s approach: customers are invited to try their own hand at whizzing up winning cosmetic combinations on the salvaged table straddling the opening in the feature tunnel under the tutelage of the on-site experts.
The central conceit to FREAKS freearchitects’ design solution for the long narrow interior that houses the store is the angular wooden tunnel that connects the spaces. Quite smartly, they figured that the tunnel would have the effect of both delineating the various parts of the store but simultaneously connecting them in a continuum where the deepened perspective actually creates an illusion of even greater space. This strategy to create a sense of an unending open-ended space is continued with the large-scale photograph of a snowy mountainscape that covers one wall of the dinky salon-like space at the rear of the store. Effectively the eye’s endpoint as one looks right through the length of the store, it gives the suggestion that one might be looking out to the great beyond; that Heliocosm inhabits a special world where anything might be possible. The pale blue and natural wood combination is definitely a winning and stylish colour combination, but its role should not be underestimated in the illusion of space in this shop of modest proportions. As any colour specialist will tell you, pale or mid-tone blue is particularly good at making small interiors seem more expansive since the eye associates it with open space and thus it effectively creates a perceptual illusion of depth beyond the walls’ surfaces.
Like a number of other identity-conscious brands in the growing organic cosmetics market, Heliocosm has thought very carefully about its image and has produced packaging solutions that are both stylish and in line with its ecological commitments. But, unlike some, the prices of its products are also sustainable, to the customer at least. So, there might be more than one pleasant surprise for those who choose to take in their stylish new store and get taken with their soothing and replenishing products based on nature’s bounty.