With the opening of its first store with a plastic-free ethos, Somerset-based natural fragrance brand Ffern reveals a multi-sensory and sustainable space that celebrates the brand’s artisan roots.
The doors to the aroma-filled retail space are welcoming visitors in, allowing them to step off the busy streets in Soho to explore and sample the delightful seasonal fragrances. Within this listed building on Beak Street there’s an essence of innovation, skill, and craftsmanship that the brand is synonymous for, mixed with a gentle intention to “disrupt the highly commercial, fashion-led model of the perfume industry”.
Brother and sister Owen Mears and Emily Cameron launched Ffern in Somerset in 2018, and Mears recalls: “Our aim from the start was to do things a little differently. We wanted to celebrate the skill and craftsmanship involved in natural perfumery – an art form that has been lost today – and to be entirely transparent about our ingredients and their provenance.”
The duo created the basis of the brand on designing limited edition, seasonal fragrances made with entirely natural and organic ingredients, all wrapped in 100% plastic-free packaging. This effort to ensure that nothing goes to waste is indeed felt throughout the store, from every considered detail in the design through to the customer experience.
Holistic interior design studio House of Grey has reimagined the rich olfactory Somerset landscape of the founders’ home. Through the introduction of sustainable textures and materiality, there’s much to be admired as you take a look around. For instance, plinths of hand carved Somerset stone sit at the entrance, whilst a hand-built terracotta diffuser made in Norfolk awakens your sense of smell the beautifully scented aroma of the current season’s fragrance.
We took the opportunity talk to Louisa Grey, the founder of House of Grey, about the inspiration behind this store design and her circular design ethos. Read on to find out more…
How have the artisan roots of the Ffern brand inspired your interior design in this new space?
It has been a huge pleasure to work with Emily and Owen on the flagship store for Ffern. It was the most joyous process as our design principles and studio ethos are so well-aligned with Ffern provenance. Our joint focus was to minimise the waste from the renovation of this listed Soho shop, and to avoid the use of plastic and leather, whilst introducing a sense and level of healing into the space.
It was a holistic process of looking back in history to rebuild the connection we as humans make when we meet in person. The end result is a space that celebrates the relationships we build when we go into a store, rather than shopping online. The Ffern store design helps to nurture a friendly relationship between the customer and the shopkeeper, and this makes it a much more joyous experience, one which people will want to return for time and time again.
You have designed the Ffern flagship store through the lens of circular salutogenic design. Can explain what this means?
Innate to our working practices at House of Grey, is the symbiotic relationship between human health and the health of the planet. We holistically fuse the features and principles of salutogenic design with the aims of circular design to create interior spaces that actively promote recovery and have a positive impact on the environment.
The aim of circular design is to eliminate waste and pollution from the creation process, regenerating natural environments, keeping products and materials in use and out of landfill. We specify all our projects to give our clients the choice of using circular, cradle-to-cradle® materials.
At House of Grey, we are no longer simply finding sustainable design solutions; our work is now focused on eliminating the problem altogether and to leave a positive design legacy.
How have you incorporated all of this into the design of the Ffern showroom?
We designed the new Ffern flagship through the lens of circular salutogenic design. As a studio, our research and development of new regenerative materials is on-going and we invest much of our time seeking new innovative materials to work with and solve design problems.
The front section of the store is lime-washed with the “Still” hue from our Bauwerk paint collection. Created with clay, minerals, and coloured with beautiful natural pigments, this paint was designed to provide the feeling we wanted when you walk into a room or space, not just the aesthetic quality.
There are multiple touch points throughout the store where we use Clayworks natural clay wall finishes, such as on the walls of the archival scent room. This is because the material is 100% natural, compostable, breathable, non-toxic, does not release VOC’s into the environment, and it passively regulates interior humidity. Clay was the perfect choice for this space with no operable windows to increase air flow; we focused on allowing the rooms to be as breathable as possible within the restrictions of a listed building.
Photography by Edvinas Bruzas.
Discover more about English natural fragrance maker Ffern, and its selection of blended seasonal scents online, and take a trip to the newly opened store at 23 Beak Street in London’s Soho.
Read lots more design news stories on enki, including a look at craftsman Tom Raffield’s handcrafted storage solutions made from self-seeding ash wood, and our Meet the Maker interview with Mexican design studio Bandido who tell us all about their lighting collections.