Raw Showcase

Arch Lab employs a sensitive approach towards the design of the flagship store of ayurvedic beauty brand Just Herbs in Chandigarh, and creates a pristine space that stays true to the brand’s ideologies of purity and deference to Indian tradition.

 

A view of the entire expanse of the compact store from the entrance. The warmth of the wooden ceiling and light fixtures creates a beautiful contrast against the various textures of the pristine white marble surfaces.

 

Launched online in 2013, Just Herbs is an ayurvedic skincare brand that prides itself in utilizing certified organic ingredients sourced from across India. When its founders recently decided to take their e-commerce business offline with a store in Chandigarh, they roped in Mohali-based Arch Lab, a young, dynamic firm led by architects Harsimran Singh and Mohit Vij, which aims to create innovative, sustainable spaces using research and modern design tools.

Just Herbs wanted its flagship store to connect customers with the core values of the brand — pure, bespoke and ayurvedic. “The brief was to translate these three elements into the design of the humble 140-square-foot space,” explains Harsimran. Thus the narrow store was envisioned with an open floor monolith design wherein the fabric of the space itself — the six planes that envelope it — were brought together with three distinct ingredients: white marble, wood and glass, all of which are biodegradable. “Our aim was to explore the intrinsic properties of these three materials — ie, strength, flexibility, texture and finish,” elaborates Mohit.

While the initial site was bare, no civil intervention was required and the architects focussed entirely on the interiors of the space. The plan was to create a subtle design that served to showcase and highlight the products on display, akin to artwork in a gallery.

The three walls of the store are covered in a soft-cut rough marble texture which exudes a pristine white aura. The display shelves, built-in polished white marble, run along the lengths of the narrow space, guiding the circulation inwards. Meanwhile, rough square marble has been used on the floor. The patterned texture was intentionally employed to break away from the linear geometry of the store. This exquisite white marble was sourced from Kishangarh, Rajasthan, and hand-chiselled to create a sense of rawness.

Perched on a marble base, the glass display stands are a mirror image of the wooden light fixtures that hang from the ceiling.

In contrast lies the ceiling that comprises a framed wooden panel used to add a touch of warmth to the otherwise stark white interiors. Wood also symbolizes the brand’s connect with nature and its Indian roots, as seen in the stunning light fixtures, crafted from solid wood by local artisans with motifs indicative of classic Indian architecture.

Glass has been used extensively throughout the store. The plasticity of the material was exploited to create stunning displays with a design similar to the wooden light fixtures. “We wanted to create a space which is truly open, and free of both visual and physical obstructions throughout. Hence, the glass displays were designed to guide the movement with minimal visual breaks,” informs Mohit.

Since the store stands on the values of purity and honesty, the project demanded that every element was handcrafted and customized to perfection to achieve the desired effect. And indeed it is an architectural manifestation of the three underlying principles of Just Herbs.

FACT FILE
Project
Just Herbs
Location Inner market, Sector 9-D, Chandigarh
Area 140 sq ft
Principal architects Harsimran Singh, Mohit Vij
Design team Renuka Parashar, Harmeet Singh.