SHANGHAI — Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned fragrance and taste company, launched “Villa Harmony” in collaboration with Xun Laboratory, a local research firm that explores Chinese ancient perfumery ingredients.
Located at a Chinese botanic garden in the suburbs of Shanghai, Villa Harmony is also home to Jin Ze Art Center, a nonprofit organization aimed at preserving and educating the public on Chinese traditional craft and culture.
Ilaria Resta, global president of Perfumery & Ingredients at Firmenich, hosted the opening ceremony last Thursday by lighting an incense burner featuring the ancient scent recipe “Baozhuan,” which was documented in the Song Dynasty.
“We are proud to combine our legacies at this center of perfumery culture to support the preservation and revitalization of Chinese perfumery ancestry,” said Resta.
“Over the last four years, we have been investing in China to further develop our capabilities, creations and innovation in the world of perfume,” added Resta.
The Villa Harmony partnership is Firmenich’s third consumer-facing creative space in China after the opening of the Fine Fragrance Atelier in Shanghai three years ago and Studio Guangzhou in 2021.
The first leg of the cooperation with Xun Laboratory culminates in the unveiling of “The Ultimate Perfume Is the Illustrious Virtue,” an exhibition that looks back on Chinese aroma history throughout the dynasties, which includes delicate replicas of artisanal incense burners, circular fans painted with spice powders, and scents such as Agarwood and dried citrus popularized in the Song dynasty.
In the future, Villa Harmony will continue to host mini exhibitions and forum sessions and invite customers to experience traditional Chinese culture with tea-tasting ceremonies and calligraphy games.
Firmenich initially got in contact to collaborate on a project for the Palace Museum in Beijing focused on creating Chinese scents in 2019.
According to Xirui Ma, head of Xun Laboratory, the collaboration will “deepen our understanding of Chinese perfumery, including its formulations, processing techniques and scent aesthetic using today’s science and technology. “
“We believe that the way to make a successful business in China, which is a market that moves so quickly, has such scale and consumers that follow new trends so fast, is to have a diverse set of partnerships,” said Paul Andersson, president of Firmenich China.
“This is a perfect complement to our explorations in the digital space. By looking back in time and trying to rediscover, recreate and understand the rich heritage of Chinese perfumery, we can then use the learnings in brands and concepts, which will resonate with the Chinese consumer,” said Andersson.
The company said ancient notes and fragrances, which come from literature-based research, the study of scent aesthetic evolution and Chinese incense case studies, can be later captured and reproduced by Firmenich’s analytical tool Natureprint, which allows perfumers to create scents.