Perfumeries with decor that rivals their fragrances
Next time you hit the road, don’t forget to stop and take a whiff of some of the world’s finest perfumeries—and check out their designs for ideas for your own home
As perfume is such a personal experience, it’s only natural that perfumers are very particular about the design and ambience of their stores. And with so many of the reasons we buy or are attracted to a new fragrance connected to memories and subconscious desires, it’s not surprising that we are drawn to certain shops for this most private of pleasures. Jo Fairley, co-founder of The Perfume Society, says, “For me, sniffing out new smells and scents has always been part of the joy of travel: the serendipity of stumbling onto new stores and small boutiques, and even souks, to shop, or simply to waft new and different fragrances under your nose. They are places that might just make your heart beat a little faster as you search for your ultimate scent—or scents.” In essence, part of the fun is the hunt itself.
Nestled among the boutiques of Manhattan’s Elizabeth Street, this small boutique feels like a cross between an oldfashioned apothecary and an ultra-modern neighbourhood bar. Founded in New York in 2006, Le Labo was something of a revolution in the world of perfumery. Its creators, Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot, aimed to reclaim perfume from what they saw as a mass market of uniformity, and the design of the hip Nolita store reflects this.
“We couldn’t afford the US$200,000 quoted by architects, so we designed the store by ourselves,” they explain. “We are always looking for the beauty of imperfection, the awareness of the impermanence of things. It is more of a feeling, a visual and almost spiritual impression, than a rational concept. That is the quiet beauty we try to achieve in our perfumes and boutiques.”
What this translates to is a mix of vintage furniture and flea-market finds that give the boutique a cool, industrial feel. Sidle up to the bar to test your nasal prowess with the resident perfume mixologist and watch your specific fragrance mix being concocted out of materials flown in from Grasse.
Design inspiration: Head to a shop that specialises in vintage items—or look online for industrial pieces that will give your home an edge.
This back-to-basics shop is in the leafy London suburb of East Dulwich, on a high street with bustling shops and a Saturday market. It’s well worth the visit for hardto-find household products from longforgotten manufacturers, as well as the brand’s range of natural products (named after the owner’s great-grandmother, Mrs White) that includes their best-selling mosquito-repelling eau de cologne, Unstung Hero.
London is becoming something of a perfume mecca and the very talented Lawrence Roullier White, who champions new and innovative perfumers from around the world, runs this store. He has gathered an amazing collection of international perfumery talent. Cutting-edge Los Angeles fragrance house Smell Bent chose Roullier White for its exclusive launch—who can resist a scent called Tipsy Social Blah Blah? It stocks many perfumes from small ateliers, including Slumberhouse, Neela Vermeire Créations and Jimmy Boyd, that are unavailable anywhere else.
Decorated with wooden floors and Victorian-style display cabinets, the concept here is simple: take a look around, then sit and smell the fragrances on display. There are no counters between you and what is on offer, and the shop even offers a sample phial service so you can try a variety of scents before you buy. Just be warned that you may come away with a cookbook and some fine china, too.
Design inspiration: Think pared back, with gorgeous unvarnished floorboards and your favourite items on display in antique glassfronted cabinets.
Set in the heart of one of Buenos Aires’ luxury residential areas, Recoleta, the Fueguia store is located in front of the Duhau Palace.
Julian Bedel, the founder and perfumer at Fueguia, personally designed the store with the aim of generating an intimate, sensual experience that focuses on scents. After passing through the dark navy facade, heavy velvet drapes cover the store, with a small wall of original botanical engravings from the 17th century. No detail or finish has been overlooked.
The low lighting was specifically developed in Germany with Erco, using a special frequency to protect the scents and avoid any degradation. Bedel has also designed a particular way of scenting the perfumes using a glass laboratory flask, so you can easily try the scents without having to spray each time. Music is an important element of the overall ambience, so enjoy a selection of Brazilian bossa nova and Argentinian tango while you browse. The simple wooden packaging, reflecting the company’s commitment to the environment, adds to the sumptuous elegance. fueguia.com Design inspiration: Think about how the lighting in your home affects each space and ensure it is appropriate for the room. Kitchens need strong task lights, but the bedroom and living room lighting should be softer and lower.
OFFICINA PROFUMO: FARMACEUTICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA
This church-like pharmacy in Florence, Italy opened to the public in 1612 and has been in business ever since. Preparations were originally developed by the Dominican friars of the monastery behind what is now the shop, and its products were intended for the friars and other members of the community in promoting good health.
When the pharmacy originally opened, it was given the title “Officina Profumo: Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella” and was soon catering to the whims of Catherine de Medici, who was crowned Queen of France. For her, the friars created Acqua della Regina (“Water of the Queen”), which is still available today as the Water of Santa Maria Novella.
The Old Apothecary’s Shop, today the herbal shop, is where the products were displayed and sold from 1612 to 1848. The main shop was originally part of the convent, a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Bari. The style is neo- Gothic, with the exception of a few wooden statues and the Romantic frescoes on the ceiling. There are eight walnut cabinets for displaying products.
There’s still a dispensary handing out potions and tonics at the back of the store— everything here is the real deal. Don’t leave without looking at the ceiling and snaffling a bottle of Melograno (pomegranate), one of its most sought-after colognes. smnovella.it
Design inspiration: Give your bathroom a makeover with a display of gorgeous glass jars filled with your favourite bath oils and other potions. Clear glass is great, but look out for other coloured glass bottles and jars as well.
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The Le Labo store in New York City combines pieces typically found in an old-fashioned apothecary with industrial furnishings
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The colour scheme and clever use of lighting helps Fueguia create an intimate space where customers can focus solely on the fragrances
The Victorian-style cabinets at Roullier White are a great way to showcase the wide variety of perfume from around the world
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LOCATED IN FLORENCE, THE CHURCH-LIKE OFFICINA PROFUMO: FARMACEUTICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA OPENED IN 1612