My Maison 21G experience started in the comfort of my home when a big burly man sporting a too-tight t-shirt with the company logo rang my doorbell. My left arm buckled at the weight of the carefully packaged bag he handed me as I signed off on the parcel with my right hand. It felt like Christmas had arrived early and I was delighted. After all, who doesn’t love presents?
Digging into the bag revealed two boxes containing exquisite reed diffusers and beautiful invitations featuring cursive handwriting. How thoughtful! Needless to say, this welcome surprise kept my friend and me in anticipation of our upcoming event. With personalization at the core of Maison 21G’s DNA, this personal touch and delivery stay true to the brand’s perfumery ethos. Thinking about how on-trend Maison 21G is for offering personalization — something popular amongst brands these days — also led me to mull over our modern obsession with expressing our individuality.
It is interesting to ponder the contradiction we feel in seeking to belong while trying to differentiate ourselves in society. Perhaps we’ve been conditioned to believe that self-preservation and competition are the natural social order in this world of anarchy; and with this dog-eat-dog mindset bleeding into modern consciousness, it’s only natural that we have the desire to stand out in all facets of life — in particular, the one concerning self-expression.
A luxury, an indulgence, an invitation
Maison 21G’s reed diffuser workshop was unlike the previous events that I had attended, which were for the launch of their roll-on perfume and store opening at Marina Bay Sands. For one, their surprise parcel came with a little homework: take a picture of the space at home we wish to design a scent for. And, unlike a perfume that changes over the course of the day due to our bodily chemical compositions, this scent was to be experienced in our homes.
At the new Maison 21G Takashimaya store, my friend and I were first given a short presentation on the different categories of scents and provided with suggestions on where to place them. More invigorating scents, for instance, were better suited for the study, while scents that were aphrodisiacs were recommended for the bedroom.
We were then asked to describe what mood we wished to create. Caught off guard, I was struck by the intimacy of this question. Designing this scent was different as it felt like a personal invitation into our homes. Our homes are a private space where we live, work, and recharge; a place where many happy memories are shared over home-cooked dinners and good wine; a place where we’re most vulnerable. A place where we can hide away from the world and just be, with no pretense and guise, without fearing judgment. Our homes, our safe space.
Thus I took some time to ponder before replying that I wanted a scent that was “unique, but still a crowd-pleaser; something memorable but still likable and pleasant.” Admittedly, it was not the easiest of briefs.
I leaned towards florals, aromatics, and woody scents but didn’t want anything too distinguishable. I wanted it to be a scent people would associate with my abode and not a scent one can easily find off the shelf. While it was beautiful on its own, jasmine was naturally out since it was too iconic. What emerged as a surprise winner was the scent rose ritual. I used to turn away from rose-scented products as they made me picture grandmas with their white coiffed hairdos, hand creams, and powdered rouges. But this scent was surprisingly fresh.
Then I decided to pair it with two other scents, sage and oud. And the percentages of the mix were kindly suggested by Amanda, the perfume designer, before being weighed out using a dropper on a metal scale. Balance was needed to ensure that the various scents did not overpower each other. A wonderful symphony of scents if you will, 30g in total.
Each Maison 21G experience never fails to remind me of our sensuous nature. And each creation, tastefully designed to suit our senses, our subjective experience, seems to capture how we feel in the moment. A feeling bottled up for others to enjoy together with us. There is something special about creating one’s own scent and leaving one’s mark, however ephemeral, in the spaces dear to us. Perhaps the experience is our only grip on reality, our way of holding on to something in a world where everything is temporal.
It seemed only fitting that my Maison 21G experience ended in the comfort of my home, coming full circle. With my beautiful glass reed diffuser standing proudly on my mantelpiece, I take sneaky whiffs when I walk past, secretly excited about the next time I can have guests over. When restrictions ease, I look forward to hosting my loved ones and inviting them into my personal space, into the world I’ve created.
Photography by Sherryl Cheong & Joanna Tan
Editor’s note: For transparency sake, this review is not an advertisement; the workshop was a media preview i.e. the experience and fragrances were gifted.