The Finest Walls Are Built Of Soap


We pride ourselves on the beauty of our finished soaps and on our ability to meet exacting customer requirements however even we were stretched recently when we worked with Crabtree & Evelyn on a very different type of project. The prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as part of The London Design Festival run an annual event called The Regent Street Windows Project. This pairs some of the London’s finest architects with some of its best-known retailers. They are tasked with creating engaging architectural installations in the shop windows along Regent Street, one of the busiest shopping streets in the world. The public accessibility of this event makes it hugely significant plus the challenge of creating something that showcases both the architect and the retailer whilst still enticing the passing general public into the store is an almost unique challenge.

When we were approached by Crabtree & Evelyn, a customer of ours, and by top London architects London Atelier to help them with the project we were both honoured and apprehensive. We had a number of meetings with them so they could explain their vision and what they required from Soapworks. Simply put they wanted to create a ‘wall’ of bespoke, original tiles created from soap. Each one would need to be handmade and would contain a pressed botanical. It would then be framed, lit and displayed in Crabtree & flagship Regent Street store.

For Soapworks this created a number of technical challenges. Very few businesses know more about creating soap than we do, however the bespoke nature of the project and the unusual use meant we needed to consider every aspect of the manufacturing process. We also needed to educate the designers on just what could be achieved with soap in terms of its finish, its opacity and durability. We went through numerous trials in an effort to perfect the look and feel London Atelier were striving for and to complement their vision. Encasing the dried botanicals was a particular challenge and we eventually achieved it by laminating the flowers beforehand. Our final challenge was in logistics; how do you transport ninety bespoke, handmade soap tiles from the east end of Glasgow to central London? The answer is you very carefully pack them into your car and you drive them there yourself!

To our delight the final installation was stunning. Entitled ‘The Herbarium’ Crabtree & Evelyn and London Atelier created something truly beautiful as well as relevant and engaging. The clever use of lighting was a particular delight and, we hope you’ll agree, the soaps would not look out of place in a gallery.

It was a very different type of project than we’re used too, but one the team at Soapworks was delighted to be involved in. It was also a wonderful showcase for the innovative culture that is at the heart of Soapworks and how we can collaborate with our customers to create something new.