While Geza Schoen concocts the juice, there’s a second creative head at work in Escentric Molecules, one that sees a fragrance and thinks, ‘bring me the particle accelerator’. Meet Paul White, our elusive mixologist of the visual.


– Escentric Molecules started with a molecule created ex nihilo in a lab, and actually called Molecule 01. My job is to create the visual world of Escentric, and the image of some glamorous babe or dude did not spring to mind as the expression of that. Sounds obvious, but a lot of fragrance packaging out there has nothing to do with what’s in the bottle. It’s more about stamping a corporate identity across everything.

– We work the opposite way. We start with what’s inside. For our new fragrances, Escentric Molecules 04, we looked at the odour profile of Javanol, the molecule at the heart of it. It smells like a softer, sheerer sandalwood, so we used a gold mirri substrate to resonate with sandalwood’s warmth. For Escentric 04 we picked up on the big pink grapefruit note, and there’s also a little Indian connection in the colour palette of pink and gold.

Molecule 04 is probably the first fragrance bottle inspired by the Large Hadron Collider.

– We also look at how the world out there connects with what’s inside the bottle. Molecule 04 is probably the first fragrance bottle inspired by the Large Hadron Collider. I guess the search for the Higgs Boson is probably never gonna be the inspiration for, say, the new Dior fragrance. But why not get excited by the biggest scientific adventure of our time? The radial lines on the bottle and packaging for M04 pay homage to the images of sub-atomic collisions in the particle accelerator. Those images are just so beautiful.

– For me, the Collider connects to the molecular engineering that gave us Javanol, the molecule in M04. They are both expressions of the super-scientific modernity we live in. So in the Collider, physicists are smashing atoms to see what sub-atomic particles are created. While at Givaudan the chemists are snipping and adding atoms to molecules like Javanol to tune their aroma with micro-precision.

I wanted to enrich Escentric’s visual DNA for our new online store.

– I and my team work on the fragrances the way I used to design album covers. Back then at Me Company, we would play around, searching for a narrative in the music to feed the design. When Bjork recorded her Post album for example, she was living away from her home in Iceland and had to communicate with her family and friends through postcards. The idea of the postcard had an emotional energy for her, so for the album cover we picked up on that. We made a collage of cards, dragged them all together and hung them like a string of lanterns behind her head.

– It’s all about synaesthesia, so you can almost visualise the fragrance when you look at the box, and smell the design when you spray it. We try to make this work at every level. So for example, the molecule for 01, Iso E Super, has an arcane aspect to it, due to the way it vanishes from your skin and then re-appears hours later. The double blacks we use in the packaging for M01 express this darkness around the molecule, its utter mystery.

– I wanted to enrich the visual DNA of Escentric for our new online store. So we’ve developed the ‘art & chemistry’ aesthetic, taking the binary and molecular graphics in a really abstract direction for the boxes the scents will be delivered in. We want to make shopping at our store the best experience you could ever have of buying the fragrance. The moment the box is handed to you, you’re in touch with the alt universe of Escentric Molecules. What’s hitting your eye should resonate with the olfactory molecules that will soon be buzzing in your brain.