Interior renovation for international skincare brand, Aesop. From afar, the small interior is guided by the close observation of a grid, or grids. In Chicago, this type of grid has a unique history. Unlike New York City’s “unyielding grid,” Chicago’s city grid is elastic. Architect and critic Sarah Whiting reminds us that Chicago’s grid is seemingly regular with slight aberrations. Now, zoom in. At a finer scale, Chicago’s grid is not as geometric as you may think. This grid has texture. You can touch it. Consider the haptic grids of architects like Sullivan, Wright, and van der Rohe. Like an Agnes Martin graphite drawing, these grids move between pronounced and flush, big and small—it all depends on how and when you look at them. The grids of Aesop Bucktown are both reclaimed and renewed. Most noticeably, two dissimilar grids made from reclaimed Chicago common bricks, a material noted for its economy and often seen in alleys, compete for your attention. On the opposite wall of the entrance a quotation from Chicago architect, Stanley Tigerman, reads, “the grid is both abstract as well as realistic.” Look closely and you are likely to find others.





1653 N Damen Ave., Chicago, Illinois, USA




840 ft² / 78 m²

Project Team

Thomas Kelley, Carrie Norman, Spencer McNeil

Consultant Team

Architect of Record: Callison Architecture; MEP: Henderson Engineers; Lighting: Quinn Murph

Construction Team

General Contractor: Heartland Construction Group


Adrien Williams; Courtesy of Aesop