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Published: 21 May 2015

Illuminum’s Quiet Sell: Multisensory Scent Retailing


British fragrance company Illuminum has redesigned its London store to create a multisensory experience, encouraging customers to explore its full range of 37 scents.

The gallery-like space sits within a 28 sq m room in a Georgian building on Dover Street – a retail hotspot also home to cult Japanese fashion emporium Dover Street Market and flagships for British fashion designers Paul Smith and Victoria Beckham. Italian architect Antonino Cardillo has transformed the store into a dimly lit grotto, housing a suspended scent installation.

The project, titled ‘Colour as a Narrative’, uses grey tones to create a neutral backdrop for experiencing scents that Cardillo describes as “invisible colours revealed only by the nose”. The walls are roughly finished with plaster composed of lime putty and volcanic ash sourced from Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, and coupled with a thick, plush, grey carpet.

Instead of housing bottles or samples of scents, the 37 perfumes – which can all be bought – are showcased within irregular hand-blown glass containers suspended by a thin black cord from the ceiling. The blank containers are sealed with a functional cork stopper on the underside that allows customers to sample the scents as they move around the space.

According to Illuminum’s creative director Asakala Geraghty, the removal of colour and branding was a conscious choice: “Stripping away learnt associations built around graphics, names and ingredients encourages a more physical and intuitive experience of scent.” See also No Logo: Desiree Parfums’ Quiet Sell for another example of a scent brand dispensing with the overt, hard sell. See also Quiet Branding.

The space is a permanent home for Illuminum, but the current installation will only remain in situ until mid-September 2015, when it will be replaced by the next, unannounced temporary project.

For more on the value of multisensory experiences in the retail sector, see the Virtual Sensoriums section in Virtual Added Value – part of our New-Era Luxury Macro Trend. For more retail strategies devised to sell fragrance, see Selling Scent and Alluring Perfumeries.

For more on the growing value of store concepts that emphasise exploration over logic as a key tactic for the digital-era consumer, see Future Store Environments in our Future of the Store Industry Trend.


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