Aesop, the Australian body-care product line that’s slowly but surely taking over the world, is about more than all-natural ingredients, and products that smell so good you find yourself wanting to eat them as soon as wash with them. From its inception in 1987, the brand has opted for a simplicity of style and presentation which anticipated many subsequent trends for the prosaic and straightforward. Their use of sans-serif typefaces, two-colour labels, and the occasional simple line illustration immediately marked the brand out from the swell of elaborate, floral, and now rather quaint-looking packaging its peers had long used.
In an ideal world everything would be this clean, to-the-point and pleasingly uncluttered – we’d say farewell to chummy, vapid marketing-speak, repulsive cutesy characters trying to sell you washing powder, or inflated claims about a product’s efficacy. This is not to say Aesop doesn’t possess as carefully put-together an aesthetic as any other product line – a faintly nerdy, bookish neatness – just that Aesop’s visual grammar is so much nicer than the others.
It comes as something of a surprise – a good and a bad surprise simultaneously – to learn that the brand has looked sideways at other products (that’s the good surprise)… but makes extremely limited runs of them, which aren’t available to purchase (and that’s the bad surprise). So they exist: the bottle of Yarra Valley Cabernet Shiraz whose label is frank about what the contents taste of, and the slab of dark chocolate shot through with the kinds of spices that infuse the bath-and-body products. I’ve long wished for a crossover between that literary side to the line (on occasion, one of the stores here in Melbourne has transformed itself into a bookshop, selling no Aesop products whatsoever) and actual books. Just as those dark bottles with their off-white labels look just-so when ranged along a bathroom shelf, we have an inkling that a line of similarly styled spines – Aesop Editions – would look unbeatably smart on your bookshelf. And you could be sure they’d have thought about contents as carefully as the design.