Aptly named the Institute for its innovative product and service offering, this store provides a sanctuary from which luxury skincare brand, Omorovicza, continues to deliver the best of Budapest’s Curative Culture.
We were appointed as executive architect on this project in 2019 and part of our research involved visiting a 200-year-old spa built by the Omorovicza family in the 1800s. The Rácz Furdo bath sits on the opposite side of the Danube river to the brand’s store in Andrássy Avenue but both share a similar look and feel.
Many of the spa’s original features have been carefully replicated and woven into the fabric of the new store and a fundamental part of our role was ensuring that the materials used remained true to Omorovicza’s vision for the space.
Every detail within the store has been hand-crafted or reclaimed by artisans in homage to the Rácz bath. Materials were sourced locally to give the store an organic feel and this included the hexagonal terracotta floor tiles and bespoke cast iron fittings used for the lighting, balustrade and window roundels. The limestone in the millwork and wall cladding also came from a local supplier.
Intricate features such as the taps were sourced from antique dealers and one of our key challenges on this project was ensuring that everything remained within budget without compromising on the design.
The texture and colour of the blue tiles used on the staircase and in the showers give the illusion of gazing into water and one of the most impressive parts of the store is the vaulted ceiling in the entrance hall and main retail area.
Omorovicza’s new home is just a short walk from their previous store but offers much more in terms of treatment areas and event space. Like the Rácz bath, Andrássy Avenue is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the building that the store resides in is also protected. It was therefore important to carefully preserve and maintain original features such as the existing façade and ensure that works were carried out in compliance with local regulations. As the project involved a change of use, from an apartment into a retail space, we also needed to consider longer lead times for obtaining permits.
As with any project we encountered some challenges along the way – not least, the pandemic putting a stop / start to works. Using natural materials also had its quirks as we discovered when we unwrapped the hexagonal terracotta floor tiles. When exposed to varying temperatures in the kiln, the tiles would change colour, so each one had to be carefully selected by hand to ensure that they tied in with the rest of the store. However, it’s this attention to detail that makes this such a spectacular project and the results speak for themselves.