Perfumery and art combined

Symrise inaugurates Appartement Etoile, a home for perfume creation in the heart of Paris, to enhance customer collaboration and to create a Fine Fragrances hub dedicated to artistic creation and innovation.

There is no place in Paris that captures the city’s incomparable atmosphere better than the famous Arc de Triomphe at the western end of the Champs-Elysées, in the center of the formerly named Place de l’Etoile. The neighborhood is home to the most exclusive and luxurious brands the world has to offer – and now also to Symrise’s Fine Fragrances hub. Complementing the Symrise site in Clichy, Appartement Etoile meets the division’s three-pillar strategy: “enhancing people talent, reinventing creativity and elevating the art of perfumery “.

CREATING A STRATEGIC “HOME” IN THE HEART OF PARIS The Fine Fragrances division’s previous location in a northern industrial suburb of Paris created a range of difficulties with regards to product development processes and competitiveness. “Our laboratory is located in Clichy, outside of Paris. However, both our customers and some of our competitors are based in the city. This caused problems in our day-to-day business and when hosting customers,” explains Ricardo Omori, SVP Fine Fragrances.

L’Appartement Étoile is a sales argument – both for our customers and for new talent.
Ricardo Omori, SVP Fine Fragrances

Submitting a final product required many coordination loops with the customer. Just to give an idea: a recently finalized fragrance was sent back and forth about ninety times before being submitted for approval. “Our competitors moved to the city center many years ago, relocating their entire laboratories and offices. With Appartement Etoile, we have now created a space that, from a cost point of view, is much more strategic.” Customer coordination and meetings can now be held in real time and within the intimate ambiance of the spot: The perfumer who’s involved in a particular project meets the customer at the on-site laboratory and they jointly work on the fragrance in order to develop a tailor-made solution and shorten the development and coordination process.

After several years of planning, the concept was eventually pitched at the end of 2019 and approved in January 2020. Contracts for the apartment were signed in February, right before the corona virus outbreak was declared a pandemic and work had to be postponed until May. On July 22, Appartement Etoile opened its doors.

In a unique Haussmanian-style building, the apartment is modeled after a cosy, intimate living area with breathtaking views of the Arc de Triomphe. Here, Franco-Israeli interior designer Deborah Prasquier has created a contemporary space, combining traditional and modern designs. Following the same concept as known in modern cuisine, the heart of the space is “the kitchen,” a glazed traditional laboratory that is accessible from all adjacent meeting rooms.

Symrise was not the only applicant for the apartment, by the way. But the unique concept of the colleagues from Fine Fragrances convinced the landlords.

The Appartement Étoile not only looks representative – it also houses a state-of-the-art laboratory.


Always inspiring more…

Architectural perfection and an olfactory master class: Symrise turns to the influence of the arts to create perfume highlights. But it can also work the other way around – we’ve created the Arc de Triomphe out of test strips.

BRIDGING DISCIPLINES The Appartement Etoile will also function as an intimate, inspirational and collaborative space that is dedicated to the promotion of olfactory culture and the creative arts. It was inspired by the 2019 book project “A World Tour Through Scent,” featuring journalists from “Nez” magazine and photographers from the “Tendance Floue” collective who documented the perfumers’ excursions around the world. “Three artists were put together, each serving as an inspiration to the other. We realized that this was a strong tool to inspire both our team and our customers. When you put different types of art together, that’s really powerful,” says Catherine Dolisi, Fine Fragrances Marketing Director EAME.

Based on this experience, another key element of Appartement Etoile’s concept is the reconceptualization of fragrance development through the arts and other exclusive cultural programs. This idea was first put into implementation /first tested during opening night. The event featured a performance of classical music by the award-winning Trio Chausson. Symrise’s Fine Fragrances perfumers Maurice Roucel, Annick Ménardo, Emilie Coppermann, Alienor Massenet, Pierre-Constantin Gueros, Alexandra Carlin, Marine Ipert and Suzy Le Helley jointly created the signature scent of Appartement Etoile – inspired by the juxtaposition/contrast of the classical music and the contemporary interior design of the space itself.

At the event, the first artistic collaboration was also put into practice. Skio, an all-terrain urban artist and activist, took on a modern version of the classic tool of perfume distillery, the alhambic, creating a veritable work of contemporary art. “The idea is to build a network of young inspirational artists and involve them in the perfume making process,” explains Catherine.

The intimacy, peacefulness and aura of the space will also serve a creative playground for Symrise’s perfumers. Along with their assistants, they are invited to host creative sessions in the hub laboratory once a week. This is particularly fruitful in the initial phase of fragrance development, the so-called starting point, where starting materials and formulas are being created. “We, as an industry, have become so industrial, with our big laboratories and machines,” explains Ricardo. “We want to bring back the art of perfumery, and that’s what Appartement Etoile is looking to achieve.”

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When you bring together different kinds of art it’s truly impressive.
Catherine Dolisi, Marketing Director, Fine Fragrances EAME

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