Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent has created a singular fragrance laboratory in the heart of Paris’ golden triangle, on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Laurent has been the in-house perfumer for the brand since 2005 and her previous lab in the Fondation Cartier building was a captivating blend of clinical and commercial aesthetics, featuring perfume-lined shelves that recalled Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy and a glass-paned office reminiscent of American fashion designer Halston’s in the Olympic Tower (as seen in the eponymous Netflix series). 

White interiors inside new Cartier fragrance laboratory of Mathilde Laurent 

Laurent’s new interiors maintain the appealingly clean style of the former space, but are infused with the warmth and cosiness of a Parisian apartment.

Nestled under a row of rooftops, the cloistered space has been designed to evoke the natural world, with a Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance chaise longue evoking a cluster of trees, a Nendo for Moroso table of clouds, and Stéphanie Marin pebble-like ‘Livingstones’ cushions. 

Plants, magazines and a fake panther inside fragrance laboratory

An oversized plaster nose modelled after a sculpture in the Hellenic collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs emerges from the wall and greets visitors as soon as they walk in. Upstairs is a terrace with a plant sanctuary where fresh herbs and flowers are gathered and used to make herbal teas, which are served as a ‘warm perfume’.

Laurent thinks of Cartier’s fragrances as invisible jewellery and her new studio does have the ambience of a jewellery workshop, with precious design objects scattered around its various white surfaces. 

Glass vessels on shelves at fragrance laboratory of Mathilde Laurent 

For Laurent, art, design and fragrance are all fundamental elements of Cartier’s identity. As she told us ahead of the launch of the house’s OSNI 1 art installation in 2017 (a cloud- and perfume-filled glass pavilion at the Palais de Tokyo), ‘I’m not an artist, but it’s good to remember that Cartier has always considered and been close to contemporary art – from the creation of Fondation Cartier in the 1970s. I feel that to create a piece like this is our duty as a house because it’s important that we sustain olfactory art like all others. Sense of smell is very important.’ §