Selfridges' Fragrance Lab attempts to distill
your character into a scent

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An immersive experience by Campaign and The Future Laboratory that takes visitors on a journey to find a scent that matches their personality opens this week at London department store Selfridges (+ slideshow).

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges was created by London studios Campaign and The Future Laboratory as an audio-guided journey through a series of spaces designed to heighten the senses.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London
Visitors are greeted at the check-in desk by fragrance technicians

The existing concept store in the south-west corner of the shop has been transformed into a white laboratory-like space, complete with assistants in lab coats.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

Inside, visitors are encouraged to interact with various items along a path through the space to create an olfactory picture of their personality. At the end, each visitor is presented with a scent by perfumer Givaudan to match their character.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

"Your engagement with space is intuitive," Campaign creative director Philip Handford told Dezeen. "You're making choices as you go around and what you interact with impacts the fragrance that you're given."

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London
The lab where the fragrances are concocted

The experience begins with a personality test conducted using a set of multiple choice questions and pictures on an iPad.

One at a time, visitors are given a set of headphones and an audio guide that talks them through the journey through the laboratory.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London
One of the custom fragrances in a personalised bottle

"First of all there's anticipation, then disorientation in the dark space and then comfort, with cleansing moments in between, before the revelation at the end," said Handford.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

A soothing voice instructs the visitor to relax and regulate their breathing before ascending a staircase.

After pausing at the top to build anticipation, each person is guided into an almost completely dark space designed to clear the mind.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London
Visitors experience a range of scents including rose petals

Leading through to a room with a mirror and chest of drawers, the guide then invites the visitor to open the drawers one by one and smell a variety of pleasant and unpleasant scents contained inside, which have been chosen to evoke particular memories.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

The following brighter spaces contain various objects and installations, and the guide prompts customers to make visual and aromatic choices as they pass through.

Coffee beans are placed in chambers between each room to cleanse the nasal palette.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London

Emerging through a curtain at the end of the journey, a lab coat-wearing technician greets the visitor in a final environment filled with mist, faceted shapes and copper tubes containing a variety of scents.

By this point, a specific fragrance has been selected based on the decisions made before and during the journey. The technician explains the personality analysis and why the perfume was chosen.

The Fragrance Lab at Selfridges in London
The exterior of Selfridges in London

"With the changes to retail, we wanted to challenge how we can merge the experiences of online and in-store into the retail environment," said Handford.

The Fragrance Lab opens today at Selfridges in London and continues until 27 June. Appointments can be booked on the Selfridges website.

Photography is by Hufton + Crow.

  • Annie Vu

    What a great selling idea!