Modelled after the London “tube,” Formula Fig innovative facial bar in Toronto is far from an average spa.
If you’ve wandered down the Ossington strip recently, you may have noticed a wall of glossy, green tiles growing like ivy on one of the storefronts, near Queen Street. This Toronto peculiar façade houses the newest Canadian location of Formula Fig, a Vancouver-born brand that wants to modernize our experience of facial treatments — using a healthy dose of thoughtful interior design.
Founder J.J. Walsh worked for Condé Nast in London as a fashion editor before moving to Vancouver — a life transition that introduced her to the world of wellness and self-care. There, she noticed a gap in the beauty industry as well as in the interior design world — why weren’t there more spa-like places with beautiful interiors, where clients could come for a treatment and revel in human-centered design?
At Toronto’s newest Formula Fig outpost, the treatment rooms, or “pods,” are tiny spaces lined up in the narrow space — in each one, two mirrors facing each other create an infinity mirror, which gives the impression of looking down a subway track. The reclining chairs that guests are invited to sit on during their facials are imported from Japan, in Fig’s signature green shade — a cross between a dentist and a barber’s chair, they add a vintage flair to the distinctly modern space.
Elsewhere in the shop, Formula Fig forgoes the sterile waiting room in favour of integrated benches carved into the shop’s walls — another nod to the subway system — and seating that encourages discussion and exchange instead of solitary reflection. Each of Formula Fig’s locations is organized around a Fig “bar,” where guests can visit, ask questions and try out some of the products offered in the shop portion.
It’s an approach reminiscent of other experiential retail shops peddling skincare and body products, such as Aesop or Le Labo — both of which have locations down the street, on Queen West. Of course, as Walsh mentions, privacy is still of the utmost importance: “Not everyone needs to know what you’re doing to your face,” she says — for this reason, clients can expect to spend most of their time in the private pods.
In the individual rooms, padded vinyl walls help to both dampen the sound between treatment rooms and create a cozy atmosphere — and the lighting throughout the shop remains dim enough to be relaxing. Colour-wise, the only contrast with Formula Fig’s enveloping green is found in the bathroom, which is painted bright pink — a nod to the inside of the Fig itself. Walsh explains that the name for the brand came from the fig’s plump, juicy appearance — an effect she hopes her clients take away after a facial. Formulafig.com