Making scent at the Alchemist Atelier

2020 . 05 . 22 | written by Karen Marin

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For the past few years, there has been a growing demand from consumers who want to find a way to customize or personalize their fragrance. Not wanting to wear the same scent as their friends or peers, people are seeking a way of turning scent into something that is truly their own. Several new brand boutiques offer programs that accompany the consumer through the scent creation process. I recently booked a workshop at the Alchemist Atelier on Rue Etienne-Marcel in the heart of Paris. Here’s a brand that is disrupting the fragrance landscape not only with their educational workshops but also with the Scent Creator device which allows the user to create bespoke fragrance in the luxury of his own home. Read on for an account of my experience and my interview with the brand.

Last summer I attended the grand opening of the Alchemist Atelier boutique. The event was so crowded I couldn’t participate in a workshop, so I was already curious about the scent creation process. I enrolled in the Discovery Workshop which allowed me to make three trials before creating my own fragrance. After completing a short questionnaire and downloading the app to my phone, my Alchemist guide Samantha, a graduate of the Ecole supérieur de parfum, took me to the discovery space. Participants are seated at a long table where the Scent Creator device is positioned in the center with the 16 base blends lined up on the right and the 18 accords on the left. We began by discovering the bases which provide the structure to the fragrance. As I smelled each blotter, images of the ingredients were projected on a large screen in front of me. This is educational for the novice, and for the more experienced scent lover, it can be a test to identify the ingredients used. Surprisingly, after smelling 34 blotters I did not have olfactory fatigue. I set aside my favorites in each category and then the creation process began.
The Scent Creator is like a Nespresso machine for fragrance where scent cartridges are inserted into an inner basket before the blending process starts. Your phone connects you to the machine via BlueTooth, and then the app guides you to create your formula. I retrieved the cartridges of the bases and accords I’d chosen, popped them into the basket, and with Samantha’s guidance, created my first fragrance. The first try was a Woody Oriental Gourmand. Not bad, but I wanted to play up the rose notes, so on my second attempt, I played with the dosages and ended up with a Woody Floral Gourmand. I liked this fragrance better but decided I would be more daring for the last version. I increased the gourmand notes and the creamy wood base, resulting in a Floriental Woody Gourmand. I liked my second version the most, so we drammed a 20ml size and then I received sample sizes of the other two creations. The customization process ends with packaging: I was able to select labels and trim to decorate the outside of my flacon and truly make it my own.
By tweaking your original formula, you can create endless flankers of your own fragrance. The process is quite easy and fun. You can also share your formula to the site and see what other people have created, which can be an inspiration. If you purchase the Scent Creator device and an assortment of cartridges you could make a custom fragrance as often as you like from the comfort of your own home. I can honestly see how this can become addictive.

Having gone through the experience, I wanted to know more about the company. Here below an excerpt of my interview with Álvaro Suárez, CEO and co-founder of Noustique/The Alchemist Atelier.

How did the concept begin?
The Alchemist Atelier is a project that was originated as a result of a strategic partnership signed between BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, Europe’s #1 home appliance manufacturer, and Puig, a global leader in the fragrance industry.
The project initiated with a few simple questions: What if anyone could find the perfect fit fragrance at any time? What if anyone could discover fragrances online? What if people could start talking and socializing because of fragrances in a digital environment? What if any perfume lover could create their own perfume? Digital technology was behind the trend of ultra-personalization in multiple ventures. Still, none of this had yet reached the fragrance industry. Since its inception, the mission of The Alchemist Atelier has been transforming the way that perfumery has been conceived.

What can a client expect from The Alchemist Atelier?
Currently, there are two main ways that consumers can interact with The Alchemist Atelier. The first one is visiting our Atelier in Paris; the second one is by having a Scent Creator at home.
Our Atelier in rue Étienne-Marcel is a 100sqm space, designed to offer a deeply immersive experience in a striking, multi-sensory environment; this innovative space deploys light, colour and movement to showcase The Alchemist Atelier’s Scent Creator and the unique range of ingredients. Visitors are invited to explore and experiment personally with the scents presented on the interactive Scent Wall, guided by the shop’s Alchemists. These trained fragrance professionals conduct hands-on 90 minutes perfumery workshops on the premises for individuals and groups to create their own perfumes.
The second way to interact with The Alchemist Atelier is by having a Scent Creator at home; a disruptive new technology that empowers fragrance lovers to become fragrance creators, ushering in a new era of personalized perfumery. The Scent Creator allows users to create easily at home fragrances combining up to 34 fragrance essences from The Alchemist Atelier library. The device is connected to an app that enables users to visualize their fragrance creations, adjust the percentages of each ingredient and share their creations with a community of perfume lovers.

What kind of feedback do you get about the Atelier and the workshops?
The Atelier is key for the brand to connect with our users and bring this new technology closer to them. Perfume Discovery Workshops are the best way to put the ancient and complex art of perfumery within everyone’s reach. These workshops have shown great success with an increasing number of perfume lovers taking part in them. The reactions of attendees are incredibly positive, and they are surprised by how easy and entertaining creating a bespoke perfume can be thanks to this innovative technology.

And what about the Scent Creator?
For the workshop attendees that want to go even further, there is always the possibility to acquire a Scent Creator and their favourite scents to develop their perfume creator skills at home. The Alchemist Atelier offers unlimited consultations with our Alchemist Perfumers both online and at the Atelier for these users. The feedback we receive from them is extremely positive, and they are extremely engaged, consuming perfume in a revolutionary way, being able to create every day a personalized perfume that fits every mood and occasion.

With all the fragrances already available on the market, why create your own?
We are in an era where mass-produced products are no longer relevant and aspirational for users. Values such as creativity and the expression of everyone’s individuality are in the rise. We are proud that The Alchemist Atelier is leading this transformational change in the perfume industry.
At The Alchemist Atelier, we aim to open a new chapter in perfumery, putting the consumer front and centre and enabling everyone to master the ancient and complex art of perfumery. We provide the tools and knowledge that people need to become creators themselves, fostering space for inspiration, creativity and collaboration that connects people through fragrances in a digital environment. As well as totally unique personalized fragrances, we enable exciting new experiences for the curious, bold individuals.

You told me that this is the sole boutique in the world. Is there talk of opening more?
The physical atelier is offering us an excellent opportunity to interact with our consumers and becomes a critical part of our omnichannel strategy. However, the focus of The Alchemist Atelier is predominantly online. This revolutionary way of bringing perfumery closer to the user breaks the barriers that traditionally perfumery has had to enter the online market. It is now the users who create the fragrance and adjust it according to their preferences, eliminating the risk of buying online a perfume and not liking it.
Our online shop has enabled us to connect, for the moment, with a European community of perfume lovers that, no matter where they are based, they can become perfume creators. Our ambition is to keep expanding our footprint to new markets, either online or with physical points of sale.

What can you tell me about the average client? Who are they?
Our core target to which we are focusing are Millennials, but the reality is that we have quite a wide age range. Our youngest creater is a nine-year old who has a Scent Creator but we also have users over 70 years old. What they have in common is their passion for perfume and creative curiosity. Our obsession with simplicity and enjoyment in the process of perfume making with the Scent Creator and our app makes it accessible to everyone no matter their age.

The Alchemist Atelier just reopened to the public on May18th following the confinement period in France.