A warm cup of herbal tea welcomes you into Eath Library’s wood-clad cosmetics boutique in Seoul’s historic Sogyeokdong area. Water-droplet shaped windows cut the corners off the outside world, letting in just enough light to bathe the space. It’s an inviting atmosphere, refined and perfected by generations of traditional Korean medical practitioners, and adapted here for the needs of the contemporary skincare consumer.
The products from Eath (which stands for Evolutionary Achievement from Traditional Heritage), combine the latest technologies with natural ingredients, based on traditional Korean medicine – which dates back as early as 3000 BC. This sense of heritage and tradition also informs the interiors of its first boutique, for which creative director Teo Yang drew from memories of his first visit to a traditional Korean medicine clinic.
‘Unlike hospitals which felt too clean and cold, the traditional clinic felt cosy,’ he explains. ‘The intimate space, surrounded by countless books on traditional Korean medicine, had a subtle scent of the herb tea, and made me feel like I was at a small and peaceful library.’ He aimed to reorganise this fond recollection into a contemporary space, filled with the cutting edge in herbal medicine skincare innovation, alongside local art and design.
Yang was inspired by the Hanok – a traditional Korean house – to apply a layering effect into Eath Library’s showroom. In a Hanok, windows can be seen through other windows, creating textured viewpoints. Here, multiple frames in tandem open and close the space; a simple gesture creating a rhythm that guides clients through the welcoming area (where tea is served), through to the wrapping area, and finally the archive area, where five pieces of master craftsman-made traditional furniture are meticulously placed within Korean Hanji rice paper screens.
Throughout, clients are subtly exposed to Eath Library’s slim collection of next generation skincare products (highlights include a skin-calming soap, matt finish sunscreen, and an advanced hydrating toner, each with its own light and verdant scent). Stacks of wooden shelves (formed from traditional pieces, updated with product-specific down-lighting) are also sparsely populated with diffusers, ceramics, and plenty of books, which are central to the local herbal medical tradition.
With Eath Library, Yang has successfully respected tradition, while anticipating a bright future for Korean herbal medicine in contemporary cosmetics. §