Raw. Transformative. Modern.
That’s how I would describe Capsule Parfumerie, a multi-brand fragrance house based out of Los Angeles that’s going to change your stereotypes about perfumes and cologne. Founded by husband and wife duo Mike and Linda Sivrican, Capsule Parfumerie is the name of the umbrella company that oversees its individual fragrance brands, all made locally and in-house in small batches: Fiele Fragrances, Capsule Parfums, Litoralle Aromatica, Musc et Madame, Saguara Perfumes, and Viajero Perfumes. While the company has a huge network of retailers that sells the fragrance brands, it operated on an online retail basis only until just recently when it opened the doors to its first flagship store on Melrose Avenue called ORRIS Perfumery. Designed by creative studio OPEN for Humans, the boutique houses all of the fragrances created by Capsule Parfumerie and looks more like an art gallery for perfumes rather than a retail store (more on this later).
I got the chance to tour ORRIS, including its in-house lab behind the store, and have become much more aware of the stories perfumes can tell. The fragrances created by Linda are definitely not your average department store scents with the same heady musks or overly exaggerated floral notes. Linda is an artist who paints with scents instead of colors, creating olfactory stories that are quintessentially LA: laid-back, different, complex yet relatable, androgynous, and sensual. From leather scents inspired by moto jackets to bright palettes of lavender and grapefruit evoking scenes from a herbaceous forest, these fragrances are made with essential oils sourced from all over the world and are created for those who are truly seeking for a unique aroma.
I chat with Linda and Mike of Capsule Parfumerie as well as Melanie Ryan and Todd Sussman from OPEN for Humans, to get some insight on what makes Capsule Parfumerie fragrances different from other parfumeries and how good design is reflected in the design of ORRIS.
Why did you pick this storefront?
Capsule Parfumerie: We wanted to be in an area that is centralized to all the neighborhoods in LA. Melrose Heights is an area that is really supportive of cool and independent brands and boutiques. Even though this area is more of a destination location, we felt our store would be represented as a true independent LA store and brand.
Where did you get the name for Orris?
Capsule Parfumerie: The name Orris comes from a raw material used in perfumery. Orris is the root of the sweet Iris Pallida flower and one of the most expensive materials on earth. The root is dried for 3-5 years and 1 ton of this root only makes about 2 kilos of the essential oil needed to make fragrance, which makes it 3.5 times more expensive than gold. It is an exceptional ingredient and used in only the highest caliber fragrances and perfumes. It’s also one of Linda’s favorite ingredients.
How did you approach the process of coming up for the concept for ORRIS?
OPEN for Humans: The client expressed their desire to design a space that was “not a typical perfumery.” The goal was to create an inviting aesthetic that created a more casual environment allowing the customer to explore and discover.
We also set out to design displays that were flexible and able to adapt with new product lines and highlight limited edition fragrances. The steel horizontal spine of the shelf remains static while the cubes can lock on and be positioned in groups or individually.
The sense of smell is personal and intimate – we took a step back and asked ourselves how can we create an environment that promotes the intimacy and individuality of scent within this open space…this led to ideation of the ingredient corner. A seated interaction for guests to face each other and test ingredients on skin.
What’s one of the challenges you had while designing the store?
OPEN for Humans: It was essentially a narrow space and we wanted to find a way to visually break it up and steer clear of the typical lay out with the transaction counter on the back wall, staring customers down as they enter. We instead positioned the sales counter area in the center, creating a more relaxed customer interaction and extended the paint along the ceiling to the adjacent wall to give the illusion of three separate spaces.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
Capsule Parfumerie: Orris is our first brick and mortar and our prior experience has been in manufacturing and wholesale. We are learning on a daily basis what it takes to run a retail location. It was our goal to create a really unique perfumery and we’ve found that people really seem to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. The initial reactions from friends, family and customers have all been very positive.
Whats some of your favorite features about the store right now?
Capsule Parfumerie: Our favorite item is the custom light fixture that holds hundreds of scent testing strips on the ceiling. The original concept had some challenging design elements and this ended up being a true labor of love. It took hours to install and was made by our friends at design firm OPEN for Humans. We also love our Marantz TT-15S1 record player and collection of vinyl we play during business hours.
What is this season’s theme?
Capsule Parfumerie: We have a beautiful new fragrance brand called SAGUARA PERFUMES, which are based on desert flora. It is absolutely amazing and smells like nothing else out there on the market. There are 3 fragrances that make up the brand—Coyote Mint made with notes of mint, smoke, jasmine, vanilla, palo santo, Desert Lavender made with notes of lavender, sandalwood, verbena and Cactus Bloom designed with notes from melon, mimosa, tobacco, lime. The initial feedback from customers has been very, very positive.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
Capsule Parfumerie: All of the fragrance brands we offer in our perfumery are all made in Los Angeles. Some of the brands were just launched recently and are not sold in many places, which makes them very special, unique finds. MUSC et MADAME’s Ambrette Rose fragrance is really surprising because of how men react to this unique scent. Typically florals are thought of as being very feminine, but this fragrance contains dirtier musk notes. The combination of 4 different natural absolutes of Bulgarian, Egyptian, Moroccan and Turkish rose mixed with the civet and ambrette musk seems to strike a chord with both female and male fans. SAGUARA PERFUMES’ Coyote Mint is brand new and an interesting take on a combination of mint and palo santo. People always comment on its uniqueness and have to smell it at least 3 times before they put it down.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
Capsule Parfumerie: CAPSULE PERFUMES has a scent called Covey and it is a best-seller in the store which has notes of almond, lime, jasmine, spearmint and fig. Customers comment on how unexpected and different the scent is. FIELE FRAGRANCES carries Santalum which comes in at a close second since Santal, or Sandalwood, type fragrances have been very popular. People have described it as very creamy, luscious, smooth and unlike any other sandalwood they have tried before.
What’s your personal favorite?
Capsule Parfumerie: We both love LITORALLE AROMATIC’s Luce Del Sole and stock bottles of it at home. To us it smells like “sunshine in a bottle”. The notes of lemon, bergamot, mandarin, salt and vetiver transports the soul to the beaches of Italy.
What do you think defines good design and how is it reflected in the store?
OPEN For Humans: We think good design is well considered between it’s application and aesthetic. Something that makes people think “that’s clever”. Overall we designed the space to be flexible, to grow in phases and reflect how the customers and team utilizes the space.
What’s next for you and your store?
Capsule Parfumerie: Opening this location has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. We are already looking at more locations and hope to expand out to the east coast in the future as well.
To visit ORRIS, stop by 7970 1/2 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
All photos by Vy Tran (unless otherwise noted).