Factory & Friends: Meeting with Valentine Pozzo di Borgo from Quintessence.


June 26, 2024


Committed to enhancing the employee experience in every detail, we wanted to create our own olfactory signature for our offices. The house of Quintessence, specializing in creating olfactory identities for brands, was an obvious choice to accompany us in this creative process.

Here, we share the origins of this story by giving the floor to Valentine Pozzo di Borgo, founder of Quintessence.

What is the story of Quintessence? How did it all begin?

As a student, I didn’t think I would go into perfumery, even though my family predisposed me to it, being the great-great-granddaughter of Xavier Givaudan, the founder of the eponymous company that invented the first synthetic flavors.

But it seems that family history caught up with me because after studying finance at the University of Dauphine, I wanted to start my own creative agency focused on olfaction. My mother joined me in the adventure, and together, we created Quintessence to help brands develop their olfactory identities.

How did you meet Factory?

I met Factory through Creative Director Jérôme Laan, who is a good friend. We quickly discussed the idea of creating an olfactory identity for the offices, which were then undergoing renovation.

Even though we work in different fields, I share with Factory the idea that a client or employee experience should be considered in its entirety. We tend to limit ourselves to what is tangible and visible, while all senses are awakened when shopping in a store or working in an office.

The sense of smell, in particular, is very powerful and often underestimated. It is even the most powerful sense in terms of emotion. Few people can describe and thus distance themselves from what they smell, whereas our brain never forgets the odors that have marked it. Thinking about the olfactory identity of a place allows people to connect with their environment and the people they interact with, and this idea of connection is essential for both brands and companies.

In reality, our job is quite similar to Factory’s. While Factory translates a brand culture into workspaces, we translate it into a scent.

How did you work in our offices?

Choosing a scent is very subjective, so everything started with a discussion between our fragrance expert and Nicolas Micallef, who talked to us about his vision of Factory, his desires, tastes (and dislikes). For the work to be interesting, there must be total freedom. One must know how to listen and describe very personal emotions. The role of the fragrance expert is to translate this vision into scents through the words and images used by the client.

Nicolas quickly spoke to us about Factory’s offices, not just as simple work and production spaces, but as a living place open to different audiences where teams must feel good. There was a hotel-like dimension to the project.

We created a unique scent for Factory that we called Tabac d’Argent. It is both very elegant and reassuring, with woody notes that evoke solidity and stability, thereby instilling confidence. In offices, it’s important not to be disturbed by a scent but rather to be accompanied by it.

What do your own offices look like?

Our offices are terribly messy! It’s a small house in the 17th arrondissement of Paris on several floors, with a lovely view of a patch of greenery and our own laboratory. Inside, it’s a real hive with packages, people, ideas, and desires coming and going constantly. We are above all creatives, and I personally need this little chaos and energy to have ideas, move forward, and work well.

Is it important to work in a beautiful environment? What are your rituals for getting to work?

It’s important to have a beautiful office and to feel good, like at home. But for me, creativity is synonymous with life, and I need a constant buzz. That’s why I like working in cafés. I never isolate myself. My door is always open. And to get to work, I walk briskly through Paris.

Finally, what is your definition of beauty?

It’s obviously very subjective, but if I delve into my personal tastes, I love green, polished concrete for the way the material captures light, the smells of wood, especially cedar. But beyond this list, I believe what I prefer is to be surprised. I love the unexpected, the unforeseen, and it shows in my offices.

To learn more about Quintessence Paris: https://www.quintessence-paris.com/en