October 11th, 2019

Our favourite Beauty Stores in Seoul

In a recent trip to Seoul one of our designers visited some of the most exciting retail experiences the city has to offer. Here are the top 5 beauty stores they explored.



Innisfree is a brand that can be found on high streets all over Seoul, but one store that stands out from the rest is the Self Store in Dongdaemun Design Plaza, an area of architectural beauty designed by Zaha Hadid. This futuristic building in true Hadid style is full of innovative experiences and engaging stores.

The Innisfree ‘Self Store’ is a great example of a truly ‘Phygital‘ retail environment. The space has interactive animated ticket strips to display immersive product content. It has a fun interactive vending machine to deliver product directly into customers hands once they have completed a number of questions about their skin to better understand their needs and provide them with tailored product choices.

It also utilises photo analysis tech to scan your skin to assess what products you need from the store; All in the spirit of empowering the customer to serve themselves without direct staff engagement.



3CE the make up brand brought to you by StyleNanda has created the ‘3CE Cinema’ – A flagship store themed as a Hollywood movie theatre. The store uses it’s stylised aesthetic to tell the story of the product. The lower floor takes the movie theme further with its pink make up booth, allowing customers to engage with products and get a make-over worthy of an actor on the silver screen.

In the cinema itself, beauty tutorial showings and other daily events occur allowing beauty enthusiasts to delve further into the brand’s world. From the cashier box to the Broadway style lighting, a feeling of fun connects the brand to it’s consumers, telling a story through thematic propping and visual theatre. The 3CE cinema will leave you feeling like the star of your own movie.



Cosmetics brand ‘Espoir’ are a staple beauty brand in South Korea, their Flagship store in Seoul brings together a culture clash that brings together the cosmetic world with a social aspect of the Korean lifestyle.

Bar culture is very much ingrained in Korean culture and the country is famed for producing some of the best cosmetic products in the world – bring these aspects together to form a retail concept and you have; ‘The Makeup Pub’.

With actual make-up on tap, bar style product displays and make up tutorial seating, customers have a plethora of physical iterations with the product and brand as well as a stylised Instagram worthy space to share and capture the moment.

Staff styled as bartenders and cocktail mixologists tend to any questions you may have and even perform theatrical makeup tutorials and custom makeup mixing live for customers adding to the sense of storytelling and the pub atmosphere.



The very first flagship store of the cosmetics and skincare brand situated in the prestigious Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea’s capital city.

The core concept of the store is called ‘Filter Space’ which is centred around the three essential elements for achieving healthy skin – water, air & light.

Taking on the issue of environmental pollution head on, the store prides itself on offering the purest air and water in Seoul. The building itself embodies this sentiment, driving home the story of purity, juxtaposing both aesthetically and through storytelling within.

The stores high – end, laboratory aesthetic gives the store a sense of provenance and authority – building trust in the credibility of the products it sells. Part experience, part experiment and part shop, the store journey leads you to think more deeply about the product that is right for you, maintaining a sense of whimsical wanderlust as you explore the technical and scientific environment.

On a personal level Seoul is a humid and warm city in summer and at the end of my journey I received a nice cold bottle of water chilled to – 15 oC, the best possible give-away to remedy a hot summers day.


On entry you are met with a stark contrast to the urban landspace outside with a minimalist, laboratory esque space completely clad in stainless steel. At the centre of the space, a water purification bar evokes a feeling of scientific expertise and allows customers a chance to refresh themselves with a sip of distilled water. The distillation apparatus perfectly encompasses the brand ethos of clean, healthy living and clear skin.

This clinical space is offset through the use of educational moments behind deliberately non-descript doors in the wall. These cabinets and alcoves are filled with advice on how to safely and healthily enjoy summer in Seoul. From a holiday essentials packing list, to a literal breath fo fresh air in the form of many fans or even a penguin in a shower. The space opens up, coming alive with curiosity peaking story-telling contrasting what seems initially to be a sparse and clinical space.

Visitors are able to interact with clinician style computers to receive ‘prescriptions’ based on their skin type, mood and lifestyle. Before ascending to the next floor a community message wall asks you where you have found the purest water in the city with the promise of a treat at the end of your journey through the store.



A product focus is presented on the second floor. Clean, regimented and uniform visual merchandising coupled with almost pharmaceutical style product packaging continues the lab feel.

Here testing product is encouraged and a Dr.Jart specialist wearing a white lab coat is on hand to provide assistance & advice.




On the top floor of the flagship the space has been transformed for summer to provide a moment of pure relief from the hot & humid city air. Customers who participated in the social interactions on the ground floor are rewarded with a pure bottle of Dr.Jart branded water chilled to -15°c and are invited to explore the oxygen garden roof terrace where oxygen is diffused into the urban atmosphere.



When leaving the flagship store, you descend into a space styled like an empty swimming pool with lane dividers overhead and inflatable rings to use as props for a triumphant selfie moment at the end of your visit. The outdoor space is striking and nails the Instagram culture of today, acting as a crescendo for a journey that engages with all five senses. Every floor evokes a sense of discovery with unexpected depths and this visually striking, yet smile provoking moment closes the journey off remarkably well.



The flagship store of fashion and make-up brand, Stylenanda, brings together an immersive environmental concept across six floors focussing on curated storytelling and engaging themes. Aesthetically striking, the pink hotel stands out as a beacon of cutting-edge fashion and beauty lifestyle, reminiscent of the Grand Budapest Hotel with its 1950’s stylistic homage.


Evoking a hotel lobby aesthetic, the ground floor accommodates brass porter trolleys displaying apparel and room keys adorning the walls. These are not merely props to set the scene either, the keys actually open lock boxes that harbour surprises and reward customer curiosity.

Surrounded by shoppable 3CE cosmetics, the blush pink coupled with white marble floors and brass detailing gives the store a sense of classic decadence akin to the Ritz.



Ascending to the second floor in a brass hotel elevator and stepping out into another pink space you are greeted with a totally different yet somehow in- keeping aesthetic. Styled as a spa and powder room product testers are displayed around marble sinks and vanity mirrors. Real brass taps and porcelain roll top bath filled with flowers set the scene. Silk lingerie nightwear adorn a rail in the space reminiscent of the girls’ pampering slumber parties seen on Hollywood chic-flicks.

Product engagement is encouraged, and the mood created by clever interior design and layout nurtures the freedom to do so. The whole space is a selfie moment waiting to happen, with its hyper stylised theme and Instagrammable moments such as the “Hello Gorgeous “neon sign above a flower filled roll-top bath.



The next floor opens out into a familiar, yet totally new and novel space. Designed thematically to look like a hotel hallway with rooms a joined either side of the space, along with brass rails and porter’s trolleys repurposed as hero visual merchandising moments. Focussing on a curated apparel collection, customers can try clothing on by entering the various hotel rooms that flank the hall, acting as fitting rooms. These room doors help to set the scene and peak visitor curiosity as to what is behind each one. On opening, the realisation that these are actually fitting rooms, always provoked a smile.


Arriving at the fourth floor you expect to enter another plush hotel style floor but instead you are greeted by the almost kitsch, pop art and tongue in cheek back end of the hotel – the laundry. Guests rarely see the laundry side of a hotel’s operations but this space is a refreshing amuse bouché that shakes up your expectations of what’s to come as your journey climbs further. Pink soap dispensers, actual retro industrial style washers and dryers create an exciting and edgy backdrop for a more street fashion style of apparel to be sold in-store. The space leaves you excited to see what’s on the next floor, creating a sense of anticipation and wonder.



The fifth floor amps the thematic interior up to 11 with the hyper stylised ‘pool’ area. The space uses tiles all round with lane markings and retail fixtures designed exactly like the handrails and stainless -steel steps found in a swimming pool. Blue denim apparel fills the space evoking a sense of water along with more novel changing rooms created as shower cubicles. To the rear of the space is the ‘Pink Pool Café’ where ice cream and other poolside beverages can be purchased.



The café both drives visitors up to the top floors and provides a break from all the shopping to be done on the floors below. A hangout zone on the top floor increases customer dwell time in the store and closes off the journey with an urban oasis allowing visitors to relax, reflect on and enjoy their stay at the ST YLENANDA Pink Hotel.

Pink, Pink Glorious Pink
retail store design
retail store design