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Wisdom from the Far East: Blocher Blocher Partners designs a pilot shop for the Philippine cosmetics retailer Beauty Bar.

Two poles, two forces, two energies: Yin and yang, basic elements of Chinese philosophy, symbolize the central principles of existence. Dark and light. Playful and direct. Passive and active. Opposed – and yet connected. This concept was a main source of inspiration to the Stuttgart design and architecture firm Blocher Blocher Partners for their pilot shop for the Beauty Bar cosmetics chain, in Manila’s Central Square Mall. The shop has become a place dedicated to the art of living.

Manila. The symbolism, the clear classification scheme, the sophisticated contrast of light and dark: Patrons of the Beauty Bar grasp this immediately. The intentionally restrained design of the shop’s façade with its prominently placed decoration point is defined by transparency. One can see into the shop from outside, just as one can see outside from within; people standing outside are enticed to enter into the realms of the shop, where the polarity of yin and yang come alive. Take the ceiling, for example: It is divided into two distinct fields mediated by an elegantly curved, essentially moderating ceiling recess.

Two worlds of color and shape, two spheres that contradict and complement each other, emerge in the space itself as well. Only in the interplay of these contrasts does a harmonious whole emerge. While the dark, mysterious yin area is reserved for make-up items, in the bright yellow yang area a wide range of care products is shown to its best advantage. The Blocher Blocher Partners team thought through this fundamentally dualistic design approach systematically, implementing it with care at several levels of style. For example, the yang sector is dominated by round, organic, softer shapes. Everything seems light, airy, playful. This is embodied in the images designed by our creative agency Blocher Blocher View, which emanate modernity through their abstraction: Warbling birds, delicate blossoms and lush floral vines decorate the walls where the bright red of hearts and kisses stands out. In the yin area, in contrast, matte shades, muted, cubic structures and clear lines create a classy ambience.

Besides the yin-yang motif, another factor characterizes the shop design. It starts with the name itself – Beauty Bar – which inspired the experts of the Blocher Blocher Partners Group to create a meeting point for friends, a fun location for events. The multifunctional, freestanding counter is a visible expression of this concept. Here, there are several make-up stools; people meet; intensive expert consultations can be carried out. But this is also where the cashier is located, behind which a monitor set in the wall provides customers with information. One major design challenge was to integrate the many different cosmetics brands with their differing product ranges in a uniform spatial pattern. Our experts’ convincing solution: a consistent concept for wall niches and furniture in the center of the space, generating a harmonious image overall and enabling the highlighted display of specific items.

Brand logos positioned prominently, photos staged in light boxes, or comprehensible product arrangements guarantee clarity without overly standardizing the presentations. These integration strategies express an important principle of the overall design: The elementary categories of yin and yang are interwoven and inseparable. The shop does not divide into two opposing units; instead, it is composed of two intertwining parts. This is also supported by the uniform floor design. Hexagonal, sand-colored ceramic tiles are used here as linking components. They lend structure to customers’ perception, convey a sense of calm, and contribute significantly to the pleasant, friendly atmosphere.

Design: Blocher Blocher Partners

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