Steven Holl designs Frederic Malle’s boutique in New York’s West Village

semi-circular walnut wood display
A semi-circular walnut wood display system lines the walls of Frederic Malle's new flagship store, designed by Stephen Holl
(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

Frédéric Malle has spent the last 14 years trading on his good taste. Since starting his perfume label, Editions de Parfums, in 2000, the charismatic fragrance expert has nurtured some of the most avant-garde and adventurous creations from the industry's most lauded perfumers. Today not only marks the company's birthday (its first store at 37 Rue de Grenelle opened on the same date), but also sees Malle venture into a new realm of curation: architecture. With the opening of his new West Village store, Malle heralds a new edition of standalone stores designed by top architects.

'My plan to open more free-standing stores around the world allows me to live my childhood dream: "publishing" the work of great architects in the form of Editions de Parfums stores,' the entrepreneur explains. 'I will have the same sort of creative relations with architects that I have with perfumers. I will ask them to design their dream shop with no compromise, nor limitation, although this time there will be a budget!'

For the inaugural effort, Malle wanted to work with an architect who had an understanding of the idiosyncratic nature of the West Village. 'I was looking for an artist whose style would contrast harmoniously with the character of this particular block,' he says. 'My wish was to work with a top architect, but someone whose practice would be small enough so I would work directly with him, rather than with a battalion of assistants.'

The answer came in the form of Steven Holl, whose work Malle has long admired. Says Malle: 'I stated my only requirements: the presence of the portraits of the perfumers, refrigerated cabinets to store our perfumes, and the existence of smelling devices to allow our clients to truly discover each composition. Finally, I stated that our stores are always comfortable places, where visitors feel at ease and manage to get away from the stress of every day life, places where time stops.'

From the outside, the boutique is a futuristic slipped disk, inserted into the brownstone-lined Greenwich Avenue. Upon entering, visitors are met with a lustrous silver interior. The walls and ceiling are made from a porous aluminum foam; a material that Holl also used for a giant door in his office. Walnut wood panelled floors run across the 400 sq ft space and vertically in the form of matching display counters, an arching bench and a semi-circular shelf, which trails off around the room and joins with a similar frame that decorates the glass storefront. On one wall, framed black and white portraits of participating perfumers hang tastefully over chilled cabinets containing bottles of fragrance, while three smelling pods adjacent allow visitors to experience the scents in all their purity.

The feeling of calm is palpable. 'You arrive here, and it's like a parentheses in your life,' Malle summed up. To complement the intimate space, the shop boasts an intuitive lighting system designed by Hervé Descottes, a creative accomplice of Holl and the likes of Andreé Putman and James Turrell, which subtly adjusts and dims according to the time of day. Venture further in and you might also catch a glimpse of the circular private garden - the perfect finishing touch.

With more stores to come in London, Miami and Los Angeles, we're eager to see what other creative collaborations Malle is concocting.

exterior of the boutique

The exterior of the boutique is a futuristic slipped disk inserted into the brownstone-lined Greenwich Avenue, New York

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

walls and ceilings made from a porous aluminium

The walls and ceilings are made from a porous aluminium, providing a subtle and calm backdrop to the walnut wood cabinets and shelves that fill the wallspace

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

refrigerated cabinets to store the perfumes

Malle's design requirements for Holl were minimal: he only specified the presence of the perfumers portraits, refrigerated cabinets to store the perfumes and the existence of smelling devices to allow the clients to discover the compositions

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

Framed black and white portraits

Framed black and white portraits hanging over chilled cabinets of bottled fragrances pay homage to the perfumers

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

semi-circular walnut wood display

The new store is Holl's first retail project

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

warm walnut wood panelled flooring

Malle and Holl achieve the aim of a serene and soothing space, with warm walnut wood panelled flooring running throughout the interior

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)

perfume bottle

Malle's perfume label 'Editions de Parfums' established in 2000, encapsulates some of the most avant-garde and adventurous perfumery creations in the industry. It's latest offering, created in collaobration with Carlos Benaim, features Bergamot from Calabria, magnolia headspace, vetiver heart, patchouli heart, cedar, ambre extreme and tree moss

(Image credit: Frederic Malle)


94 Greenwich Avenue
West Village
New York, USA


Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.