The Making of a Perfume Lab - Design Bureau

A peek inside Drom's Manhattan storefront. Photos by Paul Warchol.

The Making of a Perfume Lab

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

by Katie Mendelson

German fragrance firm Drom had a special request for its new Manhattan storefront: make it scent free. “The challenge is that you shouldn’t smell anything when you walk into a fragrance bar or laboratory,” says Janko Rasic firm partner Timothy Rasic. “You don’t want the scents to commingle, as multiple clients might be sampling [at the same time] and you wouldn’t want any particular scent to distract from the others.”

The instructions for Timothy and his team, including his father and co-partner Janko Rasic, were clear: design an interactive space that allows some of the mystery behind scent making—typically a very secretive and
guarded process—to be revealed. “We wanted the perfumers to be in the front and center of our office and not tucked away in some ivory tower, and Tim made it work,” says Robert Stapf, vice president of Drom.

The architects selected a landmark building in Tribeca, replete with a subterranean level, as the perfect location. Though the historic building was a major selling point for the space, the surrounding cobblestone streets meant that the structure of the lab itself had to be supported independently. “The vibrations in the building caused by trucks and busses passing by would cause fluctuations in the scales,” Timothy says. “The amounts in the formulas are so small that the tiniest error would throw off the whole mixture.”

And, to deal with that pesky little problem of different perfumers’ scents interacting, the firm devised a sophisticated HVAC system, where each station has an exhaust fan and a switch that evacuates the current scent. This pricey buildout might have been a deterrent for other clients, but not Drom.

“Drom became our best advocate,” Timothy says. “When we tried to cut out a lot of the design to lower the budget, they told us, ‘We need to keep everything. It’s all part of the infrastructure—the look and the aesthetics are important to us because they are really what tells the story of what we do.’”

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