Le Labo Reconnects With Their Wabi-Sabi Origins in New Kyoto Store

05.02.24 | By
Le Labo Reconnects With Their Wabi-Sabi Origins in New Kyoto Store

Le Labo has recently unveiled their newest home in Kyoto within a meticulously preserved Machiya. In 2006, Le Labo’s inaugural retail store in New York City’s budding Nolita neighborhood introduced many to the previously unfamiliar concept of wabi-sabi. The intentional deconstruction – featuring chipped paint, holes in walls, and exposed pipes – came together in a then novel manner that simultaneously represented the brand as a whole while also showcasing the art of Le Labo’s perfumery. In a stroke of serendipity, Le Labo recently revealed their latest laboratory established within the walls of a traditional Kyoto Machiya built in 1879, celebrating the essence of wabi-sabi where it first began.

Traditional tea-room preserved within Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

For those unfamiliar, wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophical and aesthetic ideal practiced by priests and artisans alike that focuses on finding beauty in imperfection and accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay. From its inception, Le Labo has been influenced by Japanese culture, embracing the uniqueness of handcrafted items and the flaws they bring. This ethos is deeply woven into their products and practices, praising the beauty in wear and stories told through time.

The open foyer to Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

Deborah Royer, Global Brand President and Creative Director of Le Labo, expands further, “As eternal students of wabi-sabi, we’re continually guided by the soulful beauty that comes from moving slowly, quieting the noise, accepting what is and allowing space for the unexpected. This intent directs us and shapes the feeling we seek to share through our craft of slow perfumery. Kyoto has long been a source of inspiration, connection, and embodiment of our deepest values. Its lineage of craft and preservation, of time-honored skills, are beacons for how we seek to pay tribute to the language of the senses from a place of greater consciousness.”

Product display along the walls of the new Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

Original elements found within Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

In renovating this traditional Machiya, a wooden townhouse often found in Kyoto, historical architectural elements were preserved using age-old materials and techniques while integrating a minimalist and functional design style. The space now includes a fragrance lab crafted from reclaimed Japanese wood and restored fixtures that maintain the building’s historical integrity. The Kyoto site offers a unique experience with spaces dedicated to showcasing the art of perfumery and celebrating local craftsmanship. The garden, connecting the main house to a small café, provides a peaceful retreat, allowing visitors to enjoy the tranquil environment enhanced by the building’s rich historical context.

Original elements seen within Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

Le Labo’s creative endeavors have also extended to the launch of their newest book, Making Sense – Volume 1, made in collaboration with Faculty Department. The book features 12 stories of individuals across California who have fearlessly handcrafted lives of their own making, celebrating the paths less traveled.

Perfumer within Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

Barista making coffee within Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

The entrance to Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

The inner courtyard to Le Labo's Kyoto Machiya

Photography courtesy of Le Labo.

Leo Lei translates his passion for minimalism into his daily-updated blog Leibal. In addition, you can find uniquely designed minimalist objects and furniture at the Leibal Store.