Universal Design Studio creates ocean-inspired concept space for L’Oréal

The space aims to “communicate big ideas” while keeping the carbon footprint small.

Universal Design Studio has designed the “physical iteration” of beauty brand L’Oréal’s Blue Beauty ethos in the form of a retail concept lab.

L’Oréal’s Blue Beauty ethos is its belief that “beauty comes from water”, so it should also give back to it, according to L’Oréal. The brand’s aim is to ensure its skincare is sustainably produced and respectful of the ocean.

The Biotherm Blue Beauty Lab is based in Monaco’s Oceanographic Institute. It has been designed for brand ambassadors and buyers to learn more about “what goes into the product, what L’Oréal stand for, and the work the brand is doing to help protect the oceans”, says Universal’s creative director Satoshi Isono.

Isono adds that Universal’s creative response was informed by questions such as, “How can we harness a small footprint to communicate big ideas?” The answer was to use “a combination of digital and physical”, he says.

The space is split into two sections, the first being a lab where visitors can see how the Live Plankton – an ingredient in the skincare products – is cultivated. Overlooking the ocean is the “immersive digital” workshop space, featuring floor to ceiling screens where Isono says visitors can “interact with the skincare products, through digital, artistic impressions created by Superbien and AC3 Studio”.

The experience as a whole is meant to help brand ambassadors and buyers better understand the beauty products. Having one of the spaces look out to the ocean gives visitors “a tangible, clear connection” to it, Isono adds.

Taking inspiration from L’Oréal’s past pop-up retail projects that prioritised customer experience, Isono explains how Universal tried to “channel its experiential, people-focused approach”.

He adds that the studio also took cues from laboratory design and worked with Biotherm’s team of scientists to “bring their research to life”. Isono explains how, from the “stainless steel worktops and reflective surfaces”, to the “symmetrical forms and crisp white lighting”, the space aims to reflect the biotechnology behind the product.


Since the Oceanographic Institute houses one of the oldest aquariums in the world, Universal had to be “really considerate and create a design that required minimal onsite construction” to avoid disrupting the marine wildlife, says Isono. He adds that “building conservation was also prioritized” to minimize the carbon footprint.

When in natural light, the space is “clean and bright” and shows “a juxtaposition between the historic building and futuristic elements”, according to Isono. He adds, “Special lighting modes submerge the space into a brilliant blue shade”, which is a nod to its oceanic location and the Blue Beauty ethos.

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  • Nikki Law August 24, 2022 at 7:29 am

    This looks fabulous and interesting. Would have been nice to have a bit more info about exactly what L’Oréal are doing to help the environment.

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