Scents and sensibility
Claus Porto’s beautiful retail spaces seamlessly fuse past and present to showcase their artisanal wares
Pic credits: Eric Petschek, Bruno Barbosa, José Campos, Victor Machado
An artisanal brand that blends history beautifully with luxury, Claus Porto is Portugal’s oldest fragrance and soap company and was founded in 1887 by German businessmen Georges Schweder and Ferdinand Claus. A finely crafted line of soaps (which grew into fragrances, candles and body products) inspired by ingredients native to Portugal – think eucalyptus, pine and vetiver, sea moss and orange – their presentation was also an ode to the country and drew on not only the natural influences around them, but everything they saw – from opulent Belle Epoque ceramics to the famed Azulejo tiles.
Joined by Achilles de Brito in 1903, the company began to expand. Fast forward a century and the company is still Portuguese-owned, but as international-facing as ever, with Aquiles de Brito, great-grandson of Achilles de Brito, bringing the brand to a new generation.
It’s this fresh and contemporary spirit that inspired the elegant store spaces in Portugal and New York. While they honour the heritage of the brand through fascinating archival materials and relics (and through the buildings themselves – the Lisbon store is an old pharmacy), the stores are a fresh modern retail experience.
The flagship in a 19th-century Porto building was overseen by architect João Mendes Ribeiro. On the first floor exhibitions are curated and a museum area is used to exhibit documents and objects tied to the brand’s history. On the multi-functional top floor a kitchen-laboratory area is where Scent Lab workshops take place and also features a vertical garden, and lounge overlooking the cathedral.
The Lisbon store is in the heart of the historical Chiado shopping district and features beautiful original cabinetry, a small museum space dedicated to historic artefacts and the piece de resistance – the dedicated Musgo Real room complete with a classic barber shop and a personalised traditional barber service.
In New York, perhaps the most striking iteration, the experience, directed by Jeremy Barbour, is space age. With shelves inspired by the forms of the historic Sao Bento train station, it’s a glamorous and luminous space that showcases the beauty of the products and packaging in almost gallery-like fashion. A monolithic washbasin sits at the heart of the store – carved from the same block of Estremoz marble that gave life to its sister piece in Porto.