Luxury London office provider Argyll recently announced the launch of ‘Argyll No. 3’ – a bespoke branded scent to be rolled out across its 30-strong portfolio of boutique workspaces.
Having undertaken an extensive refurbishment of seven of its buildings last year, the introduction of Argyll No. 3 aims to strengthen the strands of its DNA, setting itself apart from the mass of office providers in the capital. Acting as the connecting link between each of the provider’s otherwise unbranded buildings, the fragrance ensures that clients will subtly, even imperceptibly recognise an Argyll building from the moment of arrival, without disrupting the more physical branded identities of its tenants.
It highlights a pattern emerging within the workplace sector in recent years, with a dramatic increase in the number of venues introducing their own tailor-made fragrances. Designing for all five senses is by no means a new concept, but one that we’ve previously associated more with the realm of hospitality.
So, why scent? Looking to the psychology, it adds up. “Our sense of smell has a significant impact on how we perceive an environment and the memory we attach to it,” says sensory design studio JOLIE’s Franky Rousell. “Reigniting past experiences and creating new memories, scent can be used to define the mood of your space and its occupants.”
Argyll’s motive for the fragrance aligns with this. Designed in collaboration with ‘perfumier to the stars’, Azzi Glasser (who has designed fragrances for the likes of Annabel’s and the Mandrake), Argyll No. 3 captures the brand’s heritage, seeking to embody freshness, sophistication and comfort. Earthy tones evoke the gardens of many of Argyll’s prime London addresses, while notes of laurel, Vetivert and cedar add a charismatic soul.
Of course, we know that interior design is subjective, but could scent be the most divisive of the five senses? And how can commercial spaces be sure to create a fragrance that is distinctive, yet still a crowd-pleaser?
“When creating a fragrance for a space rather than an individual, balance is key,” Azzi Glasser explains, on creating a formula that works. “I was careful to avoid any extreme, cloying notes such as fruity, sweet and floral and instead focused on fine, unisex ingredients that create balance and harmony.”
As the lines between the workplace and hospitality continue to blur, Argyll’s COO, Emily Smith, puts it down to changing expectations: “Offices are increasingly designed for collaboration, functioning as hospitality hubs with high-end amenities. This focus on holistic experience is now a key source of inspiration for workplace design.”
Professor Charles Spence, experimental psychologist at University of Oxford, suggests a growth in sensory design tallies with a growing need for comfort. “Ambient scent influences our wellbeing more at times where we are stressed, so it makes sense when coming out of the pandemic,” he notes. “It could be a strategy to get people back to the office after the surge in remote work.”
Or perhaps, as time passes, instead of alluring workers out of their homes – is it about coaxing workers away from hospitality venues? Franky Rousell weighs in on the latter: “The hospitality sector has always been the front-runner at understanding how to appeal to the senses and it’s winning over employees,” she says, noting a trend in daytime workers flocking from opting for hotel lobbies and private members’ clubs over traditional offices – environments that exude a sense of wellbeing and inspiration. “It’s time for the workplace to catch up and really take care of their end-user by tapping into a sensorial experience that goes above and beyond to support. This is the only way we will get people back into the office willingly.”
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