Change or perish.

That’s the choice facing traditional medicine shops in this city where storefront rents have been rising and the popularity of Chinese medicine has been waning.

Some of the oldest medicine shops in the city take it all in stride. This one in the Dadaocheng neighborhood even admits that its store layout has remained unchanged — on purpose — since 1875.

But for Essentia, a traditional clinic first established in 1982, the decision was to rejuvenate and thrive.

chinese medicine shop taipei

To compare, the blue sign shows the original storefront on Roosevelt Road, Section 5, No. 295.

Is there anything less inviting than a wall of grey marble?

chinese medicine taipei

This is what Essentia looks like today. Let there be light.

The shop is located in Wenshan District, in one of those 30-plus year old buildings that’s commonly found sitting empty and abandoned, waiting patiently to be “uprooted” into an anonymous and shiny new high-rise.

chinese medicine taipei

But instead of sitting idle, the owners of Essentia hired Tokyo-based studio, moyadesign, to look to the future, refresh the entire store and bring in new customers.

The store was closed for three months during 2015 for the renovation.

chinese medicine taipei

chinese medicine taipei

The centerpiece is the original wooden antique counter with shelves with drawers.

Moyadesign says the surfaces were polished and restored, but have been kept in their previous positions so the renovated store still feels familiar to its regular customers.

chinese medicine taipei

chinese medicine taipei

There’s plenty of sitting areas where customers can wait for their appointments, drink tea and socialize.

I love that the stools at the counter are way more steampunk than vintage.

chinese medicine taipei

On top of the store refresh, moyadesign worked on new packaging designs for Essentia’s product line.

It’s rare — seriously, too rare — to see established Taiwanese businesses that are willing to invest in their own future.

chinese medicine taipei

Here’s to seeing Essentia doing business in this location for a hundred more years.

Photo credit: Takaya Sakano for moyadesign