Maria Speake and Retrouvius Design have created a multifunctional store, consultation and laboratory space for British perfumer Lyn Harris’ shop Perfumer H in Marylebone.
The compact storefront space needed to fulfil multiple functions: a shop, offering a small range of perfumes and candles; a comfortable and intimate private consultation suite for clients commissioning bespoke fragrances; and a working laboratory. Commissioning the design, Harris wanted to depart from the dominant aesthetics of the fragrance industry, presenting instead a modern, calming environment filled with inviting textures and forms.
Low, comfortable seating – reupholstered from Retrouvius warehouse stock to match the panels in the cabinets – was set around a rug to create an ‘island’ within the space where Harris could confer with her private clients.
Prior to Retrouvius’s involvement in the project, Harris had commissioned glassblower Michael Ruh to produce coloured glass ‘apothecary’ bottles and candle pots. These hand-produced glass pieces formed a key element in the design created by the Retrouvius studio – not only in the consideration of colour and the way that it was used in the space, but in creating a display language that celebrated their unfussy design and the strictly limited quantities the bottles were produced in.
A teak and rosewood 1950s Italian desk inset with an asymmetric glass panel – together with a mid-century sideboard – offered decorative storage space for packaging and stock while creating a mood akin to that of an elegant private drawing room or study.
The teak and brass cabinets along three sides of the main space were conceived as a ‘library’ of precious fragrance. On the one side it showed a handful of seasonal perfumes and candles in Ruh’s coloured, blown-glass containers. On the other it held laboratory-edition fragrances to be made to order.
The backing panels of the cabinets were covered in coloured velvets and raw linen, echoing the tones of the blown glass. These textile-covered panels were designed for easy removal and re-covering, allowing them to echo the changing moods of the seasonal perfume collections over time.
Set behind the shopfront space, but visible through an open doorway and aperture in the wall, the laboratory space was likewise dressed in teak shelving (reclaimed, appropriately, from a school chemistry lab). Drawing on their expertise in designing domestic kitchens, the Retrouvius team sought to create a smoothly functional 600-bottle perfume laboratory incorporating a variety of storage facilities and a refrigeration unit in a very compact area.
Perfumer H is at 106A Crawford St, Marylebone, London W1H 2HZ. Te; 00 44 (0)20 7258 7859
Retrouvius is at 1016 Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London, NW10 5NS
Tel: 00 44 (0) 20-8960 6060