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Expériences Immobiles installation by DWA Design Studio for Les Eaux Primordiales at Milan design week

DWA Design Studio devises smellable installation for parfumerie in Milan

Northern France's industrial architecture informed the design of this demountable timber-frame installation, which Italian interiors practice DWA Design Studio has designed for perfume brand Les Eaux Primordiales at Milan design week.

Called Expériences Immobiles, the olfactory installation is on show as part of the annual Alcova exhibition and consists of a duo of four-metre-high towers designed to resemble factory chimneys.

Expériences Immobiles installation
The Expériences Immobiles installation is on show at Alcova

One of these timber structures holds a series of smellable clay sculptures by artist Natascia Fenoglio, which were infused with the perfumerie's lastest fragrance Cèdre Superfluide and placed under custom-made open-topped bell jars.

"The non-glazed parts are bathed in the perfume, so the air under the glass bulb becomes really fragrant," DWA Design Studio co-founder Frederik De Wachter told Dezeen.

Ceramics by Natascia Fenoglio under a glass bell jar
It contains scent-infused ceramics by Natascia Fenoglio

Instead of having to lift these domes to take in the perfume, visitors can simply turn a small paper fan integrated into the neck to waft the scented air towards them.

The other tower holds an assortment of stills and beakers, breaking down the different notes that compose the perfume, colour-coded to suggest their scent.

"We wanted to create something visual because smell is so difficult to visualise," De Wachter said.

"So that's why we came up with the idea to analyse the perfume, take the eight most important notes and give them a colour."

Installation by DWA Design Studio for Les Eaux Primordiales at Milan design week
The installation consists of two timber-frame towers

The towers themselves are formed from an octagonal framework of fir wood slats, designed to be disassembled for reuse.

The shape was informed by the factory chimneys of northern France, where Les Eaux Primordiales founder Arnaud Poulain grew up, and the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher – the German photography duo, who famously documented Europe's disappearing industrial architecture.

The clay sculptures, meanwhile, were made using naturally coloured clays and the traditional Japanese pottery technique of kurinuki, which involves carving an object from a single block of clay.

Timber-framed tower installation at Alcova
Stills and beakers are displayed in one of the towers

Throughout the installation, DWA Design Studio integrated references to the design of the perfume bottle, with both the bell jars and the negative space in between the two timber-framed towers taking on the flacon's distinctive shape.

The studio also used actual perfume bottles as decoration, stacking them inside clear plastic tubes to create a dramatic back-lit feature inside the second tower.

Perfume bottles stacked inside transparent tubes in Les Eaux Primordiales installation
Les Eaux Primordiales perfume bottles are stacked at the centre of the other tower

This isn't the first time a Milan design week installation has taken cues from the Becher's photography.

At last year's festival, fashion house Hermès erected four monumental water tower structures inside La Pelota in homage to the duo's work. Constructed from ash wood and coloured paper, they were illuminated from within to resemble giant lanterns.

Expériences Immobiles is on display at Alcova from 17 to 23 April 2023 as part of Milan design week. See our Milan design week 2023 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.