Ex Ni­hilo

It is not ev­ery­day that you stum­ble upon a store where you can have your fra­grance cre­ated right in front of your eyes. Ex Ni­hilo, which is Latin for ‘out of noth­ing’, spreads its aroma from the Rue Saint Honoré at the heart of the City of Love, Paris. It

VM&RD - - CONTENTS - Mansi Lavsi

The Ex Ni­hilo store in Paris did not re­sult from any de­sign brief. In­stead, brain­storm­ing ses­sions re­in­forc­ing brand ideas in a phys­i­cal for­mat led to what we see as the house of fra­grances to­day. A small space of about 40 sq. mts. has the power to trans­port you to a dif­fer­ent zone of scents and mes­mer­ize all your senses. The space was small and the idea was huge. “We de­cided that the most char­ac­ter­is­tic imag­i­nary should be an ex­pres­sion of high-end con­tem­po­rary crafts­man­ship en­vi­ron­ment made of an im­age of func­tion­al­ity pre­ci­sion, in­ter­preted in a very ac­cu­rate do­mes­tic el­e­gant vo­cab­u­lary,” says Christophe Pil­let, the de­signer brain be­hind the project. The brand is a fu­sion of con­trast­ing ethos of moder­nity and tra­di­tion, in­no­va­tion and pro­fi­ciency. The de­sign of the space brings out this char­ac­ter through ma­te­rial use. It com­ple­ments wood with blue felt and mar­ble with metal. A syn­the­sis of ma­te­ri­als re­sults in a co­he­sive arena where ideas bloom. Per­fumery in­gre­di­ents are ex­per­i­mented to their max­i­mum lim­its and an at­ti­tude of dar­ing brings about the most un­ex­pected com­bi­na­tions. Per­son­al­iza­tion is the brand’s key prin­ci­ple and drives it to serv­ing each cus­tomer in a bet­ter way. Client pref­er­ences are at the apex of cre­ative de­ci­sions. A space de­vised to look like a kitchen-house has sev­eral points of in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the cus­tomer and the brand. The only con­cept was to ex­pe­ri­ence the art of per­fum­ing through a sen­so­rial con­nect with the phys­i­cal space. Ex Ni­hilo of­fers a collection of exclusive, nat­u­ral and pure per­fumes in col­lab­o­ra­tion with sem­i­nal artists. The brand con­cept of per­son­al­iza­tion is re­flected in the per­fume mix­ing ma­chine dis­played in the store as the cen­ter of at­trac­tion. The fa­cade of the store ra­di­ates sur­real tones to keep the ef­fect mute. It is a mass-void com­po­si­tion of white mar­ble and win­dows. The fa­cade state­ment is un­der­played to ex­pose the in­te­rior lan­guage to the max­i­mum. The Yves Klien-blue walls in the in­te­rior are the at­ten­tion seek­ers in the muted colour pal­ette. The store sig­nage is a mag­ni­fied replica of the pack­age de­sign. The fa­cade ma­te­rial con­ti­nu­ity lingers in the store with the floor­ing and

stand-alone dis­play units con­cocted from the same white mar­ble. The mir­rored ceil­ing in the store cre­ates the il­lu­sion of a larger store. It is quite in sync with the seed of the idea that the store should spell lux­ury. With space re­stric­tion pos­ing as a speedbreaker to a fluid move­ment, the dis­plays were spe­cially de­signed to be sus­pended to cre­ate more room for move­ment. The only fur­ni­ture in the store are the metal chairs which are very func­tional in de­sign and re­sem­ble sim­plis­tic chairs seen in kitchens. The metal goes with the lan­guage of the store and the ges­ture of hav­ing chairs in the store calls for an in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence which de­mands the cus­tomer to stay for a longer du­ra­tion and revel in the store ex­pe­ri­ence.The dis­plays are made of Amer­i­can Oak wood with painted gold metal fin­ish which is sug­ges­tive of lux­ury even at that level of de­tail. The walls re­cov­ered in the blue felt fab­ric pro­vide the back­drop for the dis­play units. The safety of prod­ucts is taken care of with the slid­ing glass doors in the dis­play units. The en­tire space con­verges to a fo­cal point where man­i­fests the stair­case to the top floor. It leads the cus­tomer to a pri­vate room where they can spend more time with an ex­pert to cus­tom­ize their per­fume to their ex­act needs . As for the zon­ing, Christophe Pil­let says, “We did not con­sider zon­ing , may be more “mo­ments” leading into a hi­er­ar­chic of these “mo­ments”. First step is dis­cov­er­ing; sec­ond step is learn­ing about the per­fumes and third step is get­ting into cus­tomiza­tion of the per­fume.” As the store is more about ex­pe­ri­ence ren­der­ing rather than a commercial trans­ac­tion, the cash counter is kept hid­den from the cone of vi­sion at ex­pe­ri­ence touch points. It is quite an irony that ‘the per­fume store’ has no sig­na­ture smell of its own. Re­tail stores world over strive to in­dulge the cus­tomer in re­tail ther­apy us­ing fra­grance as a pow­er­ful tool. But Ex Ni­hilo has an air clean­ing ma­chine which helps keeps the smell as neu­tral as pos­si­ble for the cus­tomer to make their un­bi­ased de­ci­sions

De­signer Christophe Pil­let

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