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Norman Kelley | Aesop Bucktown

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From afar, the 88 square meter interior is guided by the close observation of a grid, or grids. In Chicago, this type of grid has a unique history. Unlike New York City’s “unyielding grid,” Chicago’s city grid is elastic. Architect and critic Sarah Whiting reminds us that Chicago’s grid is seemingly regular with slight aberrations. Now, zoom in. At a finer scale, Chicago’s grid is not as geometric as you may think. This grid has texture. You can touch it. Consider the haptic grids of architects like Sullivan, Wright, and van der Rohe. Like an Agnes Martin graphite drawing, these grids move between pronounced and flush, big and small—it all depends on how and when you look at them. The grids of Aesop Bucktown are both reclaimed and renewed. Most noticeably, two dissimilar grids made from reclaimed Chicago common bricks, a material noted for its economy and often seen in alleys, compete for your attention. On the opposite wall of the entrance a quotation from Norman Kelley’s favorite contemporary Chicago architect, Stanley Tigerman, reads, “the grid is both abstract as well as realistic.” Look closely and you are likely to find others.

Carrie Norman

Thomas Kelley

Spencer McNeil

Photo Credit: Adrien Williams