A Unique Familiarity
d+a|Issue 109
A Unique Familiarity

To bolster the Spa Esprit Group’s distinctive feel-good brand identity, design studio WY-TO brought a cross-pollination of ideas to several of its beauty and food and beverage outlets.

Rossara Jamil

Multi-disciplinary design studio WY-TO’s primary scope entails exhibitions, installations and curatorial works. These include exhibitions at the National Gallery and the ArtScience Museum. Yann Follain, WY-TO’s Managing Director and Head of Design, was also the Festival Director of Archifest 2018.

Speaking of his first encounter with the Spa Esprit Group’s founder Cynthia Chua, he says, “She saw our exhibitions and how we could transform spaces to promote the arts, and said that she knew we could do the same for retail.

“She asked me what my vision was. Based on what she was explaining to me, I told her ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the idea of gazing through the looking glass.”

In 2017 and 2018, the lifestyle company appointed WY-TO to conceptualise four Singapore outlets. These are Strip and Browhaus at ION Orchard, Spa Esprit at Wheelock Place, Strip at Paragon and Tiong Bahru Bakery at Chip Bee Gardens.

In line with the Spa Esprit Group’s belief in an individualistic look for each outlet, WY-TO proposed diverse concepts. For instance, Spa Esprit at Wheelock Place features soft curves and a farm-to-beauty concept.

Compared to the quirky vibe of the ION Orchard outlet, Strip at Paragon sports a deeper palette and brass surfaces. These produce an upscale look to cater to the clientele there.

“Each project was radically different, in textures and the look and feel, for the target customers and locations,” Follain shares. “What’s important is to ensure a sense of well-being with high customisation, uniqueness and familiarity.”

Working with Chua and the Spa Esprit Group team entailed design thinking discussions on the role of design in the retail, beauty and food and beverage businesses. Though the outlets are wildly different, there is one common thread that gives the brands a shared identity.

Says Follain, “The Spa Esprit Group is not looking for trends, but experiences and uniqueness. Strip and Browhaus at ION Orchard is different from Strip at Paragon, yet the attention to detail is the same. It’s the idea that it’s something familiar, where you recognise it and you feel good. You would want to come back and share it with others. It’s a very personal feeling.”


The first brand by Chua, Spa Esprit started out in Holland Village over 20 years ago. It has since gone through changes.


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Issue 109