A sensorial journey: from Amouage's Arabian heritage to modern opulence
“We want to stop people in their tracks with art and craft; we want to tell the story of Oman’s trade route heritage and propose something quiet but loud in its importance at the same time,” says Renaud Salmon, Amouage’s Chief Creative Officer.
Renaud is a ball of calm but creative energy as he talks guests through the thinking behind Amouage’s new airport flagship and how the heritage concept boutique serves to make new connections with global travelers as they discover the high perfumery brand in its home of Oman at Muscat Duty Free, Muscat Airport.
Archaeology meets modernity
Inspired by the unique synergy between archeology and the future, the interior of the sensorial and experiential space features a spectacular contrast of ancient architecture, craftsmanship, earthy colors, local archeological materials, and modern patterns.
The boutique’s décor pays homage to Arabian heritage sites that were once trade hubs and known for their innovative and imaginative people, which blends harmoniously with the values of Amouage and its own unique craftsmanship.
The store’s interior features the finest travertine stone as a tribute to Oman’s ancient architecture, while the stone shapes are a reference to its landscape, desert, beaches and sea waves. Materials like copper and gold draw inspiration from the Sultanate’s sunsets and sunrises, while wood is linked to the sacred Frankincense tree, the source of one of Amouage’s key ingredients. The furniture includes a stunning fragrance table, as well as iconic steles (stone plinths) developed by designer Abraham Varghese that communicate Amouage’s placemaking history. The boutique design features geometrical shapes commonly used in traditional Omani architecture, while it gives a feeling of modern minimalism and opulence at the same time.
Omani point of view
The high perfumery house was born in 1983 as a ‘Gift of Kings’ from Qaboos Bin Said, the Sultan of Oman, to spread the country’s gifts of scent to the world. Followed by strong international development between 2005 and 2015, the decision was taken to recentre the brand’s philosophy, to focus on a point of view around the heritage of Oman.
“Being in this location is very important for Amouage,” explains Salmon. “Oman is the core of the brand. It’s a key platform for communicating our sense of place, our history: for people leaving the airport, they leave with the best experience of Oman, not just a standard airport experience but via Amouage, we make sure people can learn something about Oman’s place on the historic frankincense trade route.”
The design details of the boutique are inspired by the region’s natural archeology, the contrast of the brutalist rock formations against the ancient stories of cities like Petra which were key on the Frankincense Road. “These places informed the aesthetics of the boutique – the Amouage retail experience is not only about the past but also the future of the brand, that juxtaposition of the country’s history with craft in a modern setting. There is modernity in the project – a kind of equilibrium of the past and the future,” says Salmon.
The focus of the Muscat Airport boutique is firmly on high perfumery products, says Salmon. “Once you get inside this very special retail environment, you realize these sculptures propose consultation and then you can discover the story of Amouage fragrances.
“Sometimes airport assortments are quite rationalized, I find they lack speciality and curation especially for luxury customers. We wanted to offer most of the Amouage creations, particularly our six key perfumery collections. One of these is our Exceptional Extraits, which showcases our products which contain between 40-60% concentration of oils, and then our more intimate collection of Attars which are 100% pure perfume oils. These are quite involved in the high perfumery category.”
Renaud says they took the decision to offer a broad range of creations at the new boutique to enable travelers to discover all the choices Amouage has to offer – from sampling kits to intense fragrance oils that customers may arrive at later on.
“With the right staff, the brand portfolio can come to life in the store. These are iconic products, the most loved creations globally are Reflection Man, Interlude Man, Epic Woman, Honour Woman, and later creations such as Guidance, Opus 14 Royal Tobacco have become global best sellers.”
A mix of physical and digital is an important retail strategy for Amouage, says Salmon. “We love to create rich and bold experiences, they should move people by emotional connection or by the juxtaposition of craft and high-end products. On the one hand we show the beauty of rock formations in the boutique via LED screens, films that display creatively the chemistry of our ingredients and formulations – on the other hand, we want to push these components at their extremes, visual effects drive the connection between commerce and natural ingredients. We use QR codes in-store to tell stories and drive engagement. Our USP is we have a very clear point of view: Amouage fragrances are rich and generous and potent, they’re long lasting, diffusive and bold.”
Amouage is full of emotional connections, Renaud describes the products he creates as conductors from a sensorial perspective. “Every single fragrance has a personal sound track – we are convinced the way you access a fragrance is not just through your nose but aural and visual as well. We want to translate our fragrances into creations for audiences both physical and digital audiences – layers of flavors, materials, textures – it all comes to life in the boutique, it’s like an interactive discovery experience.”
The luxury element in high perfumery needs to keep on developing says Renaud. “It’s important for key players in the industry to inject new value. For Amouage, that’s pushing art and creativity with commerce, connecting the perfume category with high craftsmanship to achieve growth. If you introduce consumers to new processes, new sampling techniques that offer personalization, they will be more engaged and it drives transparency in the whole category.”