Design + Architecture

The World's Coolest Stores

by Gigi Guerra

Lairesse Apotheek

Location: Amsterdam

The big selling point: Off-the-wall yet brilliantly functional pharmacy.

What's in store: Druggist Marjan Terpstra didn't want to follow the clinical formula of most European pharmacies when she opened Lairesse Apotheek in a former bank in Amsterdam's Oud Zuid museum quarter. So she hired Dutch architects Concrete, whose clients have included Mercedes Benz and Utrecht's Centraal Museum, to seamlessly mix the homeopathic with the medicinal in an inviting but still vividly contemporary environment. The result is as surreal as it is stunning. The heart of the enterprise is a circular room, its floors printed with gingko leaf photos, anchored by a rounded bank of more than 500 drawers that glow pale green as the light refracts through them. The outward-facing drawers stock over-the-counter remedies, holistic products, and good-for-you grooming goods; prescription medications are put in drawers that turn inward, so only pharmacists have access. But perhaps the most standout element of the interior is the giant tree trunk, which appears to grow up from the floor, through the curved cement checkout counter, and into the ceiling.

Rub shopping shoulders with: Architecture buffs willing to veer off the beaten path and locals getting their prescriptions filled.

Treat yourself: A tube of chamomile-infused Labello lip balm, $3; homeopathic sleep aids for transatlantic flights, $12.

Lairesse Apotheek
40 De Lairessestraat
Tel: 31 20 662 1022

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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