Tucked away in a quaint neighborhood along Duxton Hill is a Maison dedicated to the olfactory senses, this new facility is called House 21G and it is the brainchild of Johanna Monange, who has more than two decades of experience as a fragrance designer for many brands and companies such as Lancôme, Armani and International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF). In 2019, Johanna left her job at the IFF to launch her own custom perfumes maker, which she is confident will be an industry disruptor.
If you were going to buy a perfume bottle, where would you go? Chances are, you’ll head to a shopping mall along Orchard Road to shop. Places like these have a wide variety of brands and you’ll be spoiled for choice. From floral fragrances to wood scents, there is sure to be a fragrance that attracts you. But that also poses a problem. We are bombarded with so many different fragrances that can mess with our sense of smell, thus preventing us from choosing a scent.
For Johanna, the essence of perfumery lies in creating your own fragrance. Many well-known brands, pursuing appealing to a wide range of consumers, are not particularly adventurous with adding special perfume ingredients, one of which is orris, as it will segment consumers into two different sides – they will either hate it or love it. It is almost impossible to create a revolutionary perfume with as many properties as Chanel No.5.
“The scent is like a soul, it’s elegant and is an important ingredient in making a whole person,” Johanna said while explaining why she named her new startup Maison 21G, a year-long process. “When we die, we lose exactly 21 grams, and that represents the weight of the soul that may have left the body.” Johanna wants the “21G” in the brand name to represent the idea of encapsulating the scent in our souls. Furthermore, it is also equivalent to the perfume concentration ratio used to make a perfume bottle.
Stepping into the Maison is like stepping into a cozy space, a house that is almost a home, where you will comfortably embark on the journey to discover different aroma combinations. But before you start your fragrance adventure, a personality puzzle powered by artificial intelligence will guide you to find out what your favorite perfume ingredient is. Then, different scent combinations will be suggested that you can explore more with the staff present at the store, who are supported by the brand’s La Source technology, a patented machine. invention designed by Johanna. The exclusive machine works like a Nespresso coffee machine; Add one perfume and it will distill the concentrate into the perfume bottle, the whole process takes only 30 seconds. If not, you can let it be mixed by hand by the store staff.
You can even customize it to the next level by having your own photo or design UV printed on the bottle. Personalization is really the key differentiator of the Maison 21G and Johanna understands this very well. “A lot of brands have realized they can’t recommend their scent to anyone,” says Johanna. The old marketing tactics no longer work as consumers today are wiser and have different expectations than they used to be.
Johanna and her team are constantly developing new scents so you can expect to see more than 35 standard, matchable, perfumes now available when you decide to visit. In addition to creating custom perfumes, the Maison 21G recently launched their new product Scent collection at home. Each scent contains at least 80% alcohol, which effectively kills germs while providing a hygienic and protective effect in the home. Johanna even joked that we should spray more perfume, so we can stay safe and fragrant (I think that’s a great idea!).
“As we spend more time at home, it’s important that we be surrounded by a scent that makes us feel good,” says Johanna. The new collection also comes in the form of scented candles, be it a two- or half-moon set – both of which are perfect for decorating your room tastefully.
“Sustainability is the new luxury.”
– Johanna Monange
As the luxury realm reimagined after the pandemic, changes in consumer behavior began to emerge, showing a new focus on creating memorable experiences. And what better way to celebrate this journey than to own a personalized perfume bottle. Studies have shown that our memory is closely linked to our olfactory senses and that the Maison 21G, with its exceptional attention to detail along with its commitment to sustainability, makes it one. Thriving candidate in this tightly guarded industry. Without a doubt, it will be a hit for a new generation of consumers not only in Singapore but across Asia.