The word Qiora, which means "light from within," is the name of the holistic skin care brand launched in 2001 by Japan's Shiseido Cosmetics. Architecture Research Office was commissioned to design a day spa which would also serve as the brand's flagship store. In a storefront on Madison Avenue, Architecture Research Officecreated a built manifestation of the brand's vision.
Blue organza fabric veils suspended from twenty-foot ceilings set the visual and tactile boundaries required between retail, treatment areas, and the spa cabins. Dyed milky white, aqua, and darker blues, these layered veils dematerialize the solid surfaces of the round spa cabins. The gauzy colors are carefully calibrated by overlapping layers of fabric and placement of illumination. They draw the eye continually further into the space, where a soothing, ethereal aura refreshes visitors.
During the day, Qiora's computer-controlled lighting is predominantly warm white. Cooler tones emerge in the evening, making the store and spa a lantern on Madison Avenue. The diffusion of light through organza is notable for its natural feel, as if a cloud were passing over the sun.