“Frédéric Malle introduced Editions de Parfums in 2000, a completely novel concept whereby the world’s greatest noses composed exclusive, creative fragrances to be sold under their names. In an era in which most companies value intensely marketed brand names, Malle draws attention back to the product itself: namely perfume. Through a simple “back to basics” approach, Editions de Parfums is challenging all prevailing trends.”- From the Frédéric Malle website.

For the New York venue, architect Steven Holl envisioned the concept of a slipped disk, which he describes as “an imagined geometry for olfaction” characterizing “the façade, the main cabinetry, the furniture, and the secret garden beyond”. The lighting is deployed to emphasize this geometry. As with all of Holl’s projects, the lighting sources are not independent elements but rather are fully melded into the architecture, to the extent that the architecture itself presents as the light source.

Although a small project in terms of square footage, every single component is highly customized, from the solid oak millwork to the foamed aluminum ceiling to the metal “smelling booth” where one can have a pure, untainted experience of the perfumes. Because of these bespoke details, no off-the-shelf solutions could be employed and each lighting element had to be carefully designed and tested. For example, the ceiling downlights had to be configured to glow through the foamed aluminum, with each fixture painstakingly laid out to match the pores in the metal surface.

L’Observatoire International scope included the store interior and the garden.



Date Completed


Project Leader


Natalia Priwin

Photo Credit

Studio Dubuisson